When I was a child, we played outside every chance we got! In the summer, we could easily be outside for 10 or 11 hours, taking only occasional breaks for food and hydration. I don't remember feeling bored, but I do remember if we mentioned boredom my mom could come up with a chore to do or my grandfather would say "boredom is a choice". Boredom was equated to laziness or lack of motivation. If we were bored, we could quickly imagine a new world to explore or create a new game to play.
In society today, children are not given the opportunity to feel boredom because their schedules are so full with lessons, camps, and other planned events. Plus, the moment they do experience the foreign concept of boredom, their minds often search for technology to fill that void and experience immediate relief. Now boredom could be seen as a gift to children whose schedules look like the equivalent of two full-time jobs.
Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson created 7 tips for a successful start to summer which can be found here. These ideas help parents better understand how to facilitate and encourage unstructured play for their children who are typically on a strict schedule. If those schedules are suddenly missing from the child's life it can lead to feelings of chaos, loss of control, confusion and stress. But, if presented in an appropriate way, unstructured play can bring children back to childhood and allow imagination and creativity to flow freely.
More information about the value of unstructured play and this original picture can be found here.