There's something in us that wants to keep our kids busy. If it's not sports, extracurricular activities and homework, there are chores. "Look busy!", we hear. "Don't you have homework to do?" we ask.
And yet, the greatest inventions and breakthroughs didn't all happen during lab time. Newton was sitting under an apple tree when gravity hit him, literally. Archimedes was lounging in a public bath (or so the story goes) when he had his Eureka! moment.
Downtime and playtime are essential for our human brains to process what we've been learning.
The military is often credited for many of today's great inventions: the radio, microwave ovens, the internet. In the biopic movie The Imitation Game, cryptographer Alan Turing (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) sets out to break the Nazis' code and in the process designs a very early form of the computer. Based on real events, it's clear that huge contributions to technology have been made during wartime.
But perhaps the idea to programme a machine didn't originate during World War II.
In this entertaining, animated TED video talk called The Playful Wonderland Behind Great Inventions, Steven Berlin Johnson explains how modern-day computers can be traced back to early humans playing with animal bones.
Sounds like a stretch? Watch his argument here:
So. Homework and assignments and studying are important for our children's development, yes that's true. But be sure to leave enough time in the day for dreaming, doodling and being bored. And when they're bored, let them create, make music, take photos, build, or sit and dream – not consume media and being fed others' ideas.
It's when they play offline that the biggest ideas could be sparked.
Read more about play and imagination:
- Why kids should play in the garden
- The benefits of imaginative play
- Can kids playing team sports save the world? Finger-painting can too
- How Ella's big surprise birthday bash will go down
Do you allow your children free time to play? Do they love inventing crazy, new things? Send your stories and/or images to firstname.lastname@example.org and we may publish them.