Private Schools Director Says Children Need Time To Be Bored

14/08/2014 16:57 | Updated 20 May 2015

Woman Shouting Into Megaphone

Pushy parents should back off and give their children the space to be bored.

Mums and dads who force their children into too many extra-curricular activities could lead to generations of manic and anxiety-ridden individuals.

That's the controversial/sensible/patronising/screamingly obvious (delete according to the type of parent you are) view of Julie Robinson, the education and training director of the Independent Association of Prep Schools (IAPS).

She said: "It is all too easy for parents to be sucked into a competitive busyness, ensuring that children are constantly occupied and stimulated.

"We should not fear boredom however. Quiet, reflective time is just as important as purposeful activity."

Writing in Attain, the IAPS magazine, Mrs Robinson said parents must try to strike the right balance between lively ambition and self-discipline.

Children who are pushed too hard risk being run ragged with endless extra-curricular activities. However, those who are left to their own devices could lose their competitive edge.

So it's all about balance, then? Hardly rocket science, is it?

In yet more gobsmackingly obvious insight, Mrs Robinson, a former headmistress, said parents should be wary of the internet and computers and warned that the web yields 'the best and the worst of life'.

Although advanced technology has brought a wealth of educational opportunities, communication and fun, it can deny young people the opportunity to interact with other people face-to-face, she said.

Well blow me down! And here's another pearl of wisdom...Happiness, she said, does not come from a 'regime of unrealistic multitasking, running oneself ragged with an exhausting programme of endless after-school activities'.

And another... "Computers are an exciting fact of life now but do bear in mind that human development follows a pattern of phases and stages which has not changed because of the digital revolution. "

Children need time to develop through tactile play and plenty of movement, developing dexterity."

Bear with me, there's more... Mrs Robinson said children need to be left to learn the art of forming relationships and studying human expressions and emotions, and if they are not, they risk being left behind in the world of further education and work.

"Through making friends and suffering occasional unkindness we develop an understanding of the motives of others and by trial and error we learn effective communication skills," she said.

"These soft skills are what future employers will look for, and by encouraging explicit analysis of social interaction we will serve today's children."

She concludes with a message to parents that seems to have the tone of a dad telling off a toddler for crayoning on the walls: "So, above all, try to resist being accidentally drawn into 'overbearing parenting' by preplanning each minute.

"Children need space and time so that they can develop independence and take risks."

No s**t, Sherlock!

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