Yesterday my son Ryan, who is homeschooled, told me that his friend down the street, who attends the local middle school, is bored with summer. This friend told Ryan that school gives him something to do and now that he doesn’t have school, he is bored.
It was not long ago that I heard Ryan express that same sentiment. Before I took Ryan out of school two years ago, he would also find himself bored as the long unscheduled days of summer wore on. After being held in the rigid environment of school all year, being told how to spend each minute, it was hard to for Ryan to transition to the carefree days of summer because he did not know how to fill up the huge blocks of time he was suddenly faced with. The many hours spent in school, learning what the school curriculum deemed important, gave Ryan precious little time to learn about who he was or determine what type of activities he would enjoy exploring if given the chance.
It takes lots and lots of down time to slow down enough to hear your inner voice pulling you toward your interests. It took my son well over a year after being taken out of school to gather his thoughts and begin to express how he would like to spend his time. Initially he waited for me to guide him in his choices, just as his teacher had, but after many months he began to find his way. As he discovered that he was in charge of how he would like to spend his day, he began to feel empowered and after that things just kind of snowballed.
In the last nine months, my son has taken up four new activities, all of his own choosing, which he is happily pursuing this summer. At first it was archery and after gaining confidence in that choice and understanding that he was free to pursue anything he desired, in quick succession over a month’s time, he added fishing, skateboarding and then guitar.
As this summer winds down and we head into fall, Ryan's day will not change much as he continues to pursue these activities and others. His interests will guide his learning then as it does now and this freedom will help to keep him from feeling the boredom he once did.