Today I have three posts about different aspects of nurturing kids as creative thinkers. The first is about not imposing too many rules on kids, particularly in school, but instead, letting them be risk-takers. The second is about creating the right environment to encourage kids to read over the summer. The third is about letting kids be bored, rather than scheduling activities for them every minute. These are all things that I try to do with my daughter, with varying degrees of success. I also have a post about the dangers of rigorous required summer reading lists.
Paul Bogush: "We preach to the kids "make a difference." We tell them to "be the change they wish to see in the world." We put quotes on bulletin boards motivating them to dream "big." There is continuous prodding to get them to be independent, be a leader, and who has not uttered or written on a wall that they should all "shoot for the stars."
All of that is followed up by a subliminal "not yet."...
Here's the thing. You have to be willing to do dangerous things if you want to change the world. You need to be the person that everyone else thinks is a little crazy...because "people who are crazy enough to change the world, are the ones who do.""
Me: This post resonated with me. Paul Bogush is saying: "Hey, we tell kids to be risk-takers and people who change the world, but then we expect them to be careful and compliant all day in school. This is not consistent." It's not easy to let kids do things that could be dangerous, of course, but I do feel like many (most?) parents and schools do need to ease up a bit. This post reminded me of the Free Range Kids movement.
Erika Christakis: "If we parents really want to foster natural reading, we can start by keeping our anxious and competitive urges in check and offering stories pitched at genuinely comfortable levels.
Adults also sometimes overlook content that really captivates a young child, opting instead for “message” stories or dazzling illustrations with thin characters and plot...
We need to cultivate more respect for those quiet unplanned moments when children stare at their cosmic ceiling. Think of unstructured time as negative space in a painting, illuminating what is otherwise hard to see. It may be more valuable in the long term than checking off another title on the summer book list."
Me: The bottom line of this piece by Erika Christakis is that a) kids need to read books that are at the right level and are about things that interest them; and b) need free time (without distraction) in which to read them. I certainly do not have a summer reading list for my six year old daughter. What I do is try to put fresh piles of picture books on the kitchen table and by her bed, keep her from being over-scheduled, and hope for the best.
Psychologists recommend children be bored in the summer http://ow.ly/DxPj301b9ER They need space for creativity + finding own interests
Olivia Goldhill: "There are activities and summer camps galore to fill children’s time and supply much needed childcare when kids are out of school. But psychologists and child development experts suggest that over-scheduling children during the summer is unnecessary and could ultimately keep kids from from discovering what truly interests them.
“There’s no problem with being bored,” says (Lyn) Fry. “It’s not a sin, is it? I think children need to learn how to be bored in order to motivate themselves to get things done. Being bored is a way to make children self-reliant.”"
Me: This relatively brief article makes the point that kids need time and space to figure out what really interests them. If the adults are scheduling them in activities all day long, they'll never learn to figure out what they like. Letting kids be bored makes them responsible for figuring out something to do, which is a useful skill to develop. This is something that I struggle with sometimes with my daughter, who is an only child and frequently wants an adult to play with her. I want her to learn to better entertain herself, both for my own sanity and for her own long-term happiness. Me, I can entertain myself with no one else around for days on end. That's a gift!
Nancy E. Bailey: (After looking at typical summer reading assignments given to middle schoolers) "It is not that older students who dislike reading can’t get help and encouragement to be better, happier readers. It just doesn’t seem like piling on reading assignments over the summer is going to do the trick.
And it could be turning off the students who enjoy reading! Once reading is turned into a chore, it is hard to make it sound enjoyable...
In the spirit of summer relaxation, reading should be encouraged as something enjoyable to do.
In the end, if one doesn’t like to read, they just won’t do it. And that means there is probably a real reading problem that requires fixing, or the student never really learned the great joy that can come from reading."
Me: I think it's great if a school wants to provide a list of recommended titles that kids might want to read over the summer. Ideally, that list should consider of books that are kid-friendly and likely to be enjoyed, rather than being "educational." But I agree with Nancy Bailey that providing lists of books that kids are required to read, and giving them a required number of books to read, is more likely to turn kids off from reading than to help make them avid readers. Sigh. When the time comes, I will protect my daughter from such lists to the best of my ability.