Have you ever been so immersed in a project that it seems as if nothing else was going on, it’s as if time has stood still and you are completely focused? Psychologists call this Flow, or getting in the zone. These periods of immersion and focused energy bring great happiness to the person immersed.
Flow is another joy of homeschooling, in particular, unschooling. Children can often find their flow in doing things they enjoy; such as writing, drawing, or legos. Becoming immersed in projects to the extent of finding great happiness and focus is a great skill to develop at a young age. Adults are not intruding on their work. Bells are not ringing and interrupting the rhythm of the day. Children can work without time restraints and become immersed. This brings a higher level of happiness.
Allowing ourselves and our children to find our flow is a gift. It takes away self consciousness, and allows time for being engaged in something that has value. Working in a state of flow requires concentration, another great skill to learn.
“The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times… The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.” ~ Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (1990, p. 3)
Czikszentmihalyi wasn’t talking about forcing our children to memorize spelling lists or multiplication facts. He was talking about finding your flow, notice he says in a voluntary effort. So when children, of their own accord, stretch their mind by immersion into a project it helps them grow as a person, and makes them happy in the process. Is that our goal?
How do you get in the zone, or find your flow?