The value of quiet for children is something I have been pondering lately, and lo, in the Guardian the other day, Friday I think, Libby Brookes mentioned that there has been little research into thevlaue of being alone and quiet in children, as opposed to the mountains of research about kids and socialisation. Nobody ever talks about how, sometimes, kids like being quiet, and alone.
I've been thinking about it because son is due to go to school in Spetember next year, and I'm wondering how he will cope. He doesn't mind playgroup (3 mornings a week) but "It's very busy and I just like to be quiet sometimes". I fret about how he will do in a class of 30, full on, all day. I know him. He goes to his room / the garden/ the shed and just natters on to himself, making little bubbles of worlds and arranging things to his pleasure, if you poke you head in he says "not yet", he LIKES aloneness, it's his time to play with his imagination. He dislikes playgroup by the end of the week for the noise, the hustle, the "Now we will do painting". Often, on a Friday, he will say "Is it the weekend? Can I be quiet now?". i worry about how he will be in a big class. He does not speak up, not because he is shy, but because it overwhelms him. It is pointless to him. Waiting for a question to be answered in a room of 30, he may as well dream the answer himself. And it would be better.
Thinking of my own temperment and childhood, I was similar. I took myself off to the shed, to the swing, anywhere, and later, with a book. I disliked the enforced jollity of activities at playgroup, and later, school. Daughter, I worry less about. She does not fret. She smites. Go her. At toddler group, she merely said "I don't like it, they don't play properly, let's have a snack and go". She too, will happily go off and doodle away the while rearranging her dolls house into some sort of bordello with her brothers army men, or "reading" the books to make the endings better. For one, Cinderella gets a motorbike.
I think that the school day for a four year old must seem endless. I am told, often, that I should send mine to playgroup more, to ready them for school. What? They have 18 years of it! Let them while away the hours chasing chickens, building grass cutting dens. Let them go off to the bottom of the garden and transform the tree into a motorbike. A Kawasaki Ninja, to be precise. Let them lay on the (damp) grass for 30 minutes and come in and say "I saw a giant, but he was ok, but the clouds were mostly animals today". Playgroup does not do this. Nor does school. Children do this, alone, and themselves, because they are.
You know, i'm edging towards home schooling. More fun. More play. More time to be themselves. I know from experience that a lesson is that long because there are 30 kids there. one on one, I could teach it in 15 minutes. We could have a morning of school, and an afternoon of play, of being alone, of doing nothin, or judo, or swimming, but nothing is sometimes the best of all. Because when my kids are doing nothing, they are always doing something more imaginative and hilarious than I could have dreamed up.