We have all heard a child say at one time, “When I grow up, I’m going to be…” This, in its simplest form, is daydreaming and at times becomes lost in our daily routines and commitments. Some may say daydreaming is not important or is a waste of time when in fact it is as valuable to our kids as sleeping and studying.
“Daydreaming has been found to be anything but counter-productive," Jessica Lahey, an educator and contributing writer to the New York Times, said. "It may just be the hidden wellspring of creativity and learning in the guise of idleness.”
One of the greatest qualities about daydreaming is that there is no age requirement! Unfortunately, as we get older, we lose track of time to daydream.
As a middle school parent and administrator, there are times when I forget to take time and daydream with my own children; to ensure they take a few minutes each day to share a highlight of the day, find solutions to challenges, and wonder about the possibilities of tomorrow. Lahey provides parents some suggestions to protect daydreaming with our children.
1. She suggests carving out just a few minutes each day to share thoughts, dreams and possibilities based on your child’s strengths.
2. Have your child put away the electronics and share their aspirations with you, or through journaling or drawing. Daydreaming taps into creative and imaginative skills that help solve problems.
3. Model the behavior of daydreaming by carving time out for you, too.
4. Teach your kids how to just be. How to value silence and be at peace with nothing but their thoughts to occupy them.
Daydreaming does more than create excitement about the future. It creatively forms goals and ideas and helps form them into reality. Daydreaming is fun and helps reduce stress because it focuses on the positive and highlights personal strengths. Amy Fries, author of Daydreams At Work: Wake Up Your Creative Powers (Capital Books) says, "There's substantial research connecting daydreaming in children with creativity, healthy social adjustment and good performance at school."
Daydreaming conversations do not have to be overly complicated. Whether you and your child are in the car heading to a practice or event, sitting at the dinner table, before bed, or on the way to school, take a few minutes to ask your child three quick questions:
1. What was a highlight of the day?
2. What was a challenge you solved on your own or need someone to help you solve?
3. What are two positive possibilities tomorrow might bring?
As we develop plans, goals, and focus on the potential of 2014, find a place in the day to talk with your child, no matter their age, about their dreams of the future. Whether it is a kindergartener daydreaming of purple trees and blue suns like Dr. Seuss or exploring colleges and universities from around the world, take the time to share, learn and grow in the possibilities of what your child can offer the world. There are times when we have to remember to take a moment and remember that, “When I grow up, I want to be...”
To access Jessica Lahey’s article, go to http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2013/10/teach-kids-to-daydream/280615/
This column solely represents the writer's opinion.