Summer Homework: Be Bored and Read!

June 29, 2016 - 5 minutes read

At the beginning of the school year, I posted a blog about the benefits of doing nothing click here​. Last summer I reaped the benefits of spending time with my children doing nothing.

I’d like to encourage everyone to try a little nothing this summer. There are many opportunities to enroll our children in fantastic summer programs and camps, more so than ever before. These activities fill a much-needed childcare requirement, but I’d like to encourage everyone to spend some time being bored, even for just a little while.

There are many benefits to boredom. According to one expert, Dr. Lyn Fry:

Your role as parent is to prepare children to take their place in society. Being an adult means occupying yourself and filling up your leisure time in a way that will make you happy. If parents spend all their time filling up their child’s spare time, then the child is never going to learn to do this for themselves.

I have seen this first hand with my own children. Often their most imaginative and creative play occurs after they have come to me complaining that they are bored and have nothing to do.

Additionally, being bored helps to spur creativity and imagination. Dr. Teresa Belton believes cultural expectations that children should be constantly active could hamper the development of their imagination. She argues, “Children need to process or assimilate their experiences through play or just observing the world around them.”

I know when my children feel bored their first instinct is to turn on the television or to look for some type of screen to occupy their time. Pushing through this habitat and letting them feel bored is not always easy, but I’ve seen the benefits that it brings. For example, they play with children they might not have otherwise, they pick up a book to read, they start drawing, and miracle of all miracles they start playing together. I’ve seen my children create elaborate, complex games together. They have begun to learn to be independent and self-reliant to fill their time.


One way to help our children develop their imagination and creativity is to expose them to the world of literature. So while I encourage a whole lot of nothing, there is one exception to this…finding time to read. All of our Cypress Park students are at different places on their journey as readers. Some are just beginning, while others are fluent and passionate readers. Regardless of his or her reading skills each and every student benefits from reading throughout the summer.

Being literate is comprised of two basic skills, decoding and comprehending. Often comprehension skills are more well developed then decoding skills. As parents we need to support our children with both skills. Decoding skills are developed when children read aloud from “just right” books. Developing comprehension skills occurs when children have the opportunity to think about, discuss, and reflect upon text. For most children we can develop comprehension skills by reading to our children (or for those more advaced, fluent readers, reading together) and talking about the books we read. Decoding skills are developed when children read to us and we provide corrective feedback.

Exposing our children to new worlds, ideas, and information through books can only help to develop their imagination and creativity. This in turn will support them to fill their time when bored either because they have a great story to pick up and read or by provide new material and inspiration for play.

This summer try finding a little time to be bored and if all else fails, pick up a book!

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