In our busy, modern society, we have begun to lose sight of the value of slowing down. Young adults especially seem to have more commitments now than ever before, including schoolwork and extra-curricular activities, sports, clubs, socializing and part-time work. Our children’s lives are filled with noise – both literal and figurative – from smartphones, computers, electronic devices, video games, social media and television.
We have forgotten how to be quiet.
Spending some time each day for quiet reflection is so important, not just for our children and young adults, but for all of us.
What is quiet time?
Quite simply, quiet time means spending part of your day engaged in an activity that does not require the presence of another person. The activity should be low-key and should not cause overstimulation to the mind or the senses. That means no smartphones or digital screens, no music, no television, no talking. Building with Legos, developing a craft project, working on a puzzle, reading, meditating or journaling are all wonderful quiet time activities.
Why is it important?
Daily quiet time gives kids a chance to shut out the world for a while. They can allow themselves to relax and engage in simple activities that make them think and develop their sense of self-direction. There is no one telling them what to do or how to do it, no background noise from an electronic device or television and no need to share or compromise (or argue) with a sibling or friend.
This kind of creative independence is essential to development – children who don’t have regular opportunities to engage in quiet, independent play are often easily bored and become demanding or attention-seeking when they aren’t being actively stimulated.
Benefits of quiet time
For children, the benefits of regular self-directed quiet time are numerous and well-documented.
Daily quiet time helps to:
1. Boost confidence and independence.Quiet time gives children a chance to explore a variety of activities that help develop their self-reliance; this is also why quiet time should be ‘alone time’. Children need the opportunity to work on creative problem solving on their own, which is crucial in building self-confidence.
2. Encourage gratitude.When children are constantly distracted by noise and outside stimulation, there isn’t much time or space for self-reflection. Quiet time gives them necessary distance from these distractions, often leading them to think about all they have and developing deeper feelings of gratitude for what they’ve been given.
3. Facilitate creativity and inventiveness. Even children who aren’t particularly creative can tap into their imagination and out-of-the-box thinking when given quiet time in which to do so. They can more easily disconnect from the influence of group thinking and begin to rediscover their unique creativity.
4. Promote relaxation. Today’s children experience more stress and higher levels of anxiety than previous generations. Many experts believe these feelings are caused in part by the overstimulation that is now so common in children’s lives. While adults who struggle with these issues are usually able to identify and avoid their triggers, young people have a much harder time making those connections. Unless they are allowed to spend some time alone, many of these children will have a hard time alleviating stress.
5. Improve attentiveness and focus.Focus and concentration are like muscles that must be used in order to build strength. This strength is best built up when we give all of our attention to one activity at a time, rather than trying to multi-task our way through the day. Quiet time gives kids the opportunity to maintain a sustained focus on one activity or task for a period of time, helping to develop concentration and improve attentiveness.
6. Recharge the body.Spending time engaged in quiet, solitary activities gives kids a chance to rest their minds, improving their emotional, spiritual and physical health by removing the need to constantly react to outside stimuli.
7. Stimulate brain development and improved memory. According to recent studies, even just 40 minutes of quiet time could help the adult brain grow new cells in the hippocampus region, an area of the brain associated with memory, learning and regulating emotion. The potential for brain cell growth in children could be even more significant.
8. Combat insomnia.While childhood bedtime drama is certainly not a new phenomenon, most experts agree that modern technology isn’t helping our kids get to sleep. Allocated quiet time each day can help promote better sleep – kids fall asleep faster, sleep more soundly and wake refreshed and well-rested – which has a host of health benefits.
Now you can see the positive outcomes that regular periods of quiet time can realize. The Australian International School in Singapore is an institution that recognizes the benefits of quiet time and incorporates these practices into our tuition in order to maintain a lucrative environment in which our students can understand and express themselves.