The start of a new school year is quickly approaching. It seems the summer goes by quicker each year. Have you been able to spend time with your gifted child this summer to explore new and/or different things than what the school schedule allows?
I remember planning some activities for my child, with his input, of course, and also leaving free time in the schedule for relaxing, and for other opportunities that popped up. This allowed our schedule to be flexible so we could take advantage of unexpected opportunities such as a special speaker at the library (a last minute addition to their calendar), or a new exhibit at an animal park (due to storm damage in another state that required the animals to be sent to other states until their home could be rebuilt). My child and I learned a lot about a number of different things that we had not planned, but that were interesting and valuable. We also learned to have downtime at home to do nothing.
During the school year it is more difficult to have unscheduled downtime because so many parents think they have to have every minute of their child’s day scheduled. This is also true during the summer and school vacations. Sometimes a little free time is important to give the child (and adult) an opportunity to take a deep breath, sit and do nothing but think about the day they just had or the one coming tomorrow, and to learn to be content with themselves during downtime and just let their mind wander or daydream. It is during downtime that creativity may be sparked by the brain’s wandering through thoughts and memories. Downtime has health benefits, too, even for children. There could be many blog posts about the great variety of benefits downtime provides.
Gifted children need downtime to think and play and to just be, because their minds are often going non-stop. They need to learn how to reflect and calm themselves in our intense world. That includes leaving screen viewing for a period of time. Lest you think I’m against screen time, I assure you I am not. I am a staunch advocate for students using devices in school and in daily life to be productive, since that is what their world expects as they grow into adults. However, downtime as I speak of it here, means time without a device nearby.
While it is very tempting to schedule our children’s activities and time every day after school and on weekends, see if you can take one night off and have some downtime at home where family members decide what to do with this unscheduled time. At first it may seem odd to everyone, but stick with it. Family members may eventually even become accustomed to it and some may learn to like the downtime. It is essential for all of us to recharge, but especially for gifted children as they gear up for the coming school year and daily life.
Want Students to Be More Creative? Give Them More Downtime
The Benefits of Downtime: Why Learner’s Brains Need a Break
Research-Tested Benefits of Breaks
Is Your Child Overscheduled? Kids Need ‘Down Time’
The Joy of Doing Nothing
Why Your Brain Needs More Downtime
Ask the Doctor