School Beat: Let Your Kid Be Bored

By Doug Hoogerland, Principal

Roguewood Elementary

My parents encouraged me to get involved in extracurricular activities.  When I wasn’t participating in sports or band or 4H or delivering the local newspaper on my bike, I really had a lot of free time.  Nevertheless, there were also times I would test my parents by saying, “I’m bored.”  Sound familiar?  If you are anything like my parents, you use that phrase as an opportunity to have your child think for herself, imagine, invent, explore and figure things out.

My parents actually embraced the concept of boredom! Perhaps it wasn’t so much as accepting this, but using it as an opportunity to get me to experience problem solving and engage in creativity.  If I so much as mentioned the phrase “I’m bored,” my parents took the opportunity to send me outside to play and figure it out. Because of this, I learned on my own to find something to do, so I discovered, imagined, invented, and played. I figured it out.

By education and profession, I am an elementary educator, but at home when the mower breaks, I take it apart and fix it.  No one ever showed me how it’s done, but I figured it out.  When my furnace stopped working last winter, I didn’t panic or immediately call a repair person.  I looked to identify the problem, thought about what might work to correct it, and eventually repaired the furnace on my own. Thanks mom and dad!

Growing up (and even now as an adult) I had numerous situations where the answer or solution was not readily evident. I’d like to think that because my parents accepted the concept of boredom, ultimately affording me opportunities to problem solve, I learned to think for myself.  Don’t we want that for our children?  Go ahead and embrace boredom and hearing your child saying, “I’m bored,” and then send them outside to play, to imagine, invent, explore and figure things out.