What I like most is doing nothing!”said Christopher Robin.
Winnie the Pooh asked: “How do you do just nothing?”
Christopher Robin replied: “Well, when grown-ups ask, “What are you going to do?”
and you say, “Nothing” and then you go and do it.
Winnie the Pooh answered, “I like that. Let’s do it all the time!”
Are we pushing our children along too fast? Are we starting them in school too early? By starting school fulltime before the age of four, are we keeping our children too busy? Do they get enough time to play and run around outside, following their inclination and imaginative spirit. Are we putting our children in all kinds of “educational activities” and “sports events” after school to keep them occupied and monitored? Do we let our children “just be and do nothing” sometimes, or have Christopher Robin’s days of doing nothing disappeared completely.
I watch my three year old grandson play with blocks, cars, duplo, and puzzles. He paints fiercely when the mood hits, runs wildly across the yard and jumps in the leaves and ditches, rolling in the mud. When he’s feeling a little tired, he curls up on my lap with a book. Free play is essential for every child to develop their large motor skills and experience the world around them in a natural way.
Are our schools designed for this? How much of the day is monitored and the child’s activities programmed. Whereas we used to have three recesses in the day when I started teaching, now many schools have two “nutrition breaks” in a six hour stretch. Often children don’t even go outside for one of them. Break times are essential for students, as the free play gives them the opportunity to rest and recharge, as well as develop skills of co-operation and communication, which are essential to their development. In Finland, schools have a 15 minute break after every 45 minutes of class time. Students in that system perform very well, and are recharged when they return to class, ready to focus.
What about at home? Does your child come home, eat a snack, and run outside? This is the way it was a generation ago? Or is the hold of the technological devices and television too tempting for the child, and too easy for the parent? We need to encourage free play at home, and at school, for our children to develop physically and emotionally. We too, as parents in our fast-paced life style, might need to sometimes “just be and do nothing’, hang out with our kids, eating popcorn and playing hide and seek with them. I like doing nothing at times, and often that’s when creativity strikes.