27 September 2010

unschool monday :: daydreaming

One of the benefits of our approach to learning is that we can just slow right down. Life moves so quickly for so many small children these days. They are dragged from activity to activity, often with school in between and often without time to just stop. School holidays are taken up by further activities, educational programs and holiday programs... There just isn't much time for gazing out windows, imagining, daydreaming... There are people who are of the mindset that daydreaming is a bad thing, but around here it's a vital part of our curriculum. As I've mentioned before, active questioning and interest in learning in a more traditional way ebbs and flows. Some days we go from one activity to the next, covering all subject areas, questioning and challenging. Then there are days when we do nothing much at all. Huz and I could freak out and ask ourselves what they're learning, what are we achieving? But this is the magical time. Processing, creative thought, real learning - this is when it happens. Daydreaming and play are such an important part of childhood and honouring that time allows them to hold that childhood for just a little longer.

I've always been a bit of a daydreamer. I'll often be spotted gazing out a window staring at something for a while. Seemingly there's nothing going on... people have commented... You know what though - there is something going on!! Brilliant schemes, plans, creative ideas, sometimes just relaxing. These things all come from that time I spend quietly daydreaming, letting my mind wander... Its my sacred mama time. The nurturing part of the day I grab in snippets that gets me through the niggling, nagging, less fun parts of the day. Oh yes, daydreaming is an important part of life in the owlet nest!

In the photo, big owlet is obviously covered in face paint. The picture is of her favourite daydream... Its one she often refers to and that we use as a meditation for her to calm down and sometimes help go to sleep. There are many variations of it, but usually it involves a field with unicorns and rainbows and flying with her favourite faerie, Moonbeam - yes that is a picture of big owlet painted on her own nose! So we honour those daydreams and that magical time. We talk about daydreams sometimes, and others we understand are private and just part of the day. Sometimes daydreaming turns into other things and brings up more questions. It inspires artwork at all hours, beautiful song and occasionally we'll notice that the owlet we left daydreaming in the comfy corner has just finished reading a book...

Some further reading...

The Hurried Child - Kathleen McDonnell
The Unhurried Child - Catherine Newman
Why Does Daydreaming Get Such a Bad Rap? - Christina Frank


  1. I'm a daydreamer too. Always have been. As a child people would often ask "what's wrong?" if they noticed I was somewhere else. Nothing was wrong at all - just thinking, but perhaps I looked sad?

    My 4yo girl has started to ask "what are you thinking about Mum?" - I suppose she recognises that look too. And if I tell her what I'm thinking she'll often tell me what she's thinking - and her daydreams are far more interesting than mine. All frogs, ponds, talking cats, forests and rainbows!

  2. I can't imagine any of my kids sitting still long enough for such a beautiful facepaint!
    I agree wholeheartedly with your words Lauren. So many people are rushing and pushing their kids about. We spent nearly all the school holidays mooching about at hoem, doing what ever evolved from the day.
    What an aweful article on daydreaming - I couldn't even finsih reading it it was usch tripe.
    My kids are into drawing their daydreams at the moment - such fantastical work - no wonder my eldest is fnding school dull when her mind is as active as this !
    Oh the middle ground - you know what I mean :)

  3. Are they serious? The whole idea of daydreaming being bad is new to me. Obviously, there are a few situations where it's not the time to daydream. But tbh I am more concerned about people who don't/can't daydream...

    Anyway, thanks for another great post. Your unschooling ones always provide food for thought.


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