Daydreaming: A Portal to Insight

You’re sitting at your desk. The teacher is in front of the class excitedly talking about past participles and gerunds when your head starts to get fuzzy and your eyes gloss over. Your mind is at the beach, where your family just took a vacation. You are walking in the sand, you feel the warm breeze on your face, the water around your feet. The birds circle overhead as a man tosses crackers into the air.  Suddenly you hear, “Snap out of it!”  You have drifted off again into another time, another place. But here, back in reality, there is no time for daydreaming.  Wouldn’t it be nice if the attitudes towards daydreaming were different?  Well, it looks like research is starting to catch up to what we humans so naturally do and prove to those naysayers that there is real beauty in drifting off into la la land.

In her article in The Atlantic, Jessica Lahey contends that daydream is absolutely not a waste of time.

Daydreaming has been found to be anything but counter-productive. It may just be the hidden wellspring of creativity and learning in the guise of idleness.

I have long contended that our society’s infatuation with schedules and timed events has led to an increase in “problematic” behaviors in children. Adults put so much pressure on children to produce something tangible or fret over ‘educational’ pursuits, that they overlook a huge piece of the development puzzle—down time.  As Lahey explains, there is a real need to support the wandering mind and give kids space to mull things over. Her article is a nice reminder that once again kids do naturally know what is good for them.



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