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Imagination and the entertainment of self….


In doing my research for Rhythm of the Home, I have gravitated to one thought specifically in relation to my own journey as a mother…..the importance of open ended and imaginative, self directed/ regulated play.

Having an only child I find myself often torn between letting Eben play alone, or joining him in something that he is doing.  And as I begin to reflect on my own skills as a mama, I find that I have fostered Eben’s ability to entertain himself just by being an independent person myself.  As he has grown, the requests for me to perform for him or to guide him through an activity have diminished.  He is teaching himself without me providing the script of the right or wrong way of doing something.

And I like that.

I have struggled over the past 5 years with finding the right combination of autonomy and support.   As Eben gets older, I find that he is more and more independent in the skills that actually matter.   The skills of life. And I wish that I could take a bow for having a part in that…but in truth his expanding imaginative brain and his innate abilities as a little person deserves all of the credit.

I was simultaneously saddened and inspired while listening to this article on NPR the other day.


Article HERE

Shrinking Imaginative brain space????

Executive function skills?!?!?!

Take a few minutes of your day to listen to this.

And maybe if you have a little extra time, read this one as well.

Tell us, what are your feelings?

6 Comments leave one →
  1. 05.4.2010 8:52 am

    that makes me sad. and much more confident in my desire that none of my child’s toy play “for” him.

  2. 05.4.2010 9:37 am

    As an unschooler, I am much less interested in my son being successful in school, which is something I hear over and over in studies like these – “indicator of success in school” etc. While I do let my son watch TV and he has a lot of toys, I do not see his imagination lacking – he develops elaborate stories and makes things that have one function (school bus for instance) serve another in his story. I also think it’s important to understand the culture of 60 years ago – when it was more likely that a 5 or 7 year old would have been told to sit still on a regular basis and even be punished for it, than it is today – therefore the conclusions of that study are somewhat suspect. And while there may be a correlation between imagination and clean up, that doesn’t equal cause. As a child who grew up without TV in a rural part of Canada, I had a very active imagination (still do, now at 32), but never liked cleaning up and had a messy room, left the toys and books out, etc.

  3. 05.4.2010 9:52 am

    This is just a completly interesting story. Thank you so much for sharing…
    I am always so facinated to watch my boy as he heads out into the back yard to play and explore. I love watching what he gets into, to hear little bits of his babble, and to where he heads off to and why (is there a ball hidden in the bushes over there, did he need to grab a few rocks to put into his dump truck…).
    I think watching him is one of the biggest joys I have as a mama these days. To know that he can and does entertain himself (though not all the time, he loves to have me particpate too- mama draw? mama read book? mama, dough?) I like that he doesn’t mind me as a playmate!

    We are gettnig rid of our TV this month, I am looking forward to not having the distraction, not just for him but for us as parents too. though we will miss our lazy Saturday morning Seasame Street fix, I am sure we will find a way to fill our time otherwise.

  4. 05.4.2010 11:29 am

    oh I love this post. I love it because as a mom in today’s society you are led to believe that if your kid isn’t enrolled in soccer, swim, music & of course, school, they’ll fail. They’ll be bored, spend their days frustrated as their minds rot away. I feel the opposite. I tend to think of those ‘activities’ as entertainment & have learned to realize that the REAL learning only happens when I’m not really involved. I set an example of living, learning, loving, etc.
    Anyway. Just thankful that there are folks out there with a similar notion!

  5. 05.4.2010 12:24 pm

    Ahhh, yes. The over scheduled child. I think boredom is a very powerful gift to give our children. It sparks their creative soul and they “do” and “make” all on their own. I have those days where I feel like I should do more with the kids… but if I can stop in my tracks and peek in to see what each of them is up to, I usually find they are doing something ridiculously silly and creative all on their own…. and instead of stepping in I quite honestly grab a book or my knitting and sit close by and watch. They are pretty good at pulling me into their world when they need me. Even if it’s to say “You are the mama tigers and we are hungry babies…. we need tiger food!” Each of my kids over 7 gets to choose one out of the home activity. That’s it. So while I may not be looking forward to my kids being picked up for an ivy league school, my heart is happy to know I am trading that for kids who will say “remember the oak tree, catching lizards, making fairy gardens, building toys, cooking food… etc etc……” A free childhood to fill their little souls up of goodness.

  6. 05.6.2010 3:59 pm

    Glad so many moms feel the same way! I am all about non-scheduled, free play! Thanks for the info Julia!

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