Monday, January 30, 2012

Observation on Play and Learning

Before I publish my observation, I am going to clarify that my only claims to expertise are that I used to be a child and that I am a mother of two, big sister of six, and Aunt Nan to...well, it's hard to keep up with that number.  I have no degrees or certifications.  I don't even have any resume-worthy work experience in this area.  So this is just an observation, nothing more or less.

Playing is as vital to a child's future success as working is for an adult's.  Fred Rogers said, "Play is often talked about as a relief from serious learning.  But for children, play is serious learning.  Play is really the work of childhood."

When a child plays alone, he learns to be independent.  When he plays with others, he learns to cooperate, influence, share, and communicate.

While he plays, he experiments.  He learns that the steeper the slide, the faster the ride down.  He learns that the sun turns a marvelously muddy substance into a hard, dry cake.  He learns to control his body as he balances one more block on top of a tower as tall as he is.  His attention span lengthens as he follows Lego directions to complete increasingly complicated sculptures. 

I agree with Mr. Rogers.  This is serious!  When he plays, he practices being an adult, which is what he will be for most of his life.

What about the "serious learning?"  There is certainly a place for that, and it must be faced head-on with diligence and discipline, but it should not preclude play.  Play prepares him for "serious learning" and gives him experience to draw on as he works.  Handwriting is easier because of the hours he spent grasping knobs on puzzles, doing lacing cards, and manipulating tiny Legos.  Historical figures and events are cemented in his memory when he dresses up and acts out a story after hearing it.

I read in the comments of a blog post recently (I'm sorry I can't remember where), "What is learned with pleasure is not soon forgotten."  I believe that a child’s play should not only be allowed but respected and encouraged as a means to becoming a well-rounded, intelligent, and successful human being.

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AMAY said...

I love this and stood in need of it today. The boy had a difficult morning because I made him go play in his room, while the girl and I did a lesson. He was determined he had to have a partner for play, and I was equally determined he would play by himself for 10 minutes. It took an hour, but he finally stayed in his room for the allotted time. When I went to tell him he could come out, he was happily building car ramps. Sometimes play takes work, but it IS worth it.

Lisa said...

Great post! Love it! So many people in society today want to take away any and all play opportunities from children. Many schools don't even offer recess, for crying out loud! I am so blessed to be able to homeschool my crew. It isn't easy, but the rewards are great, that's for sure..

Many blessings,
(visiting from HHH)