Don't you just love it when you follow your gut and later find out that the "experts" confirm that what you are doing is right? This is how I felt as I read an article on NPR yesterday discussing the fact that play is actually very important for learning. Play gives children opportunities for multi-dimensional learning. When children play they are able to use their imaginations, create, work on relationships with friends and family, apply the knowledge they are gaining, and problem solve.
When given lots of free time to do what they want children actually end up doing A LOT of learning. When you give a child a worksheet or other one-dimensional assignment they don't always get a lot out of that.
In the article I read, titled What Kids Need From Grown-Ups (But Aren't Getting), Yale Professor Erika Christakis points out that we have "adultified" school and we need to put our faith back into children. We should allow our children a lot of time to play. We need not stress or worry that a child is not learning if they do not come home with a pile of worksheets or crafts to place on our fridge. Play is true learning and we need to create an environment that nurtures play.
I have always felt that one of the most important reasons I homeschool is to allow my children a lot of open time to play and be kids. Sometimes they play alone and often they play together. When my children have hours to play, they are able to focus much better on the school work I do need them to do. I feel like they are more engaged as well.
One thing that has helped me keep play a big part of my children's day is allowing them to start their day off with play. They get a good one or two hours of play in before we start our school work. It seems to help a lot. I would love to hear ways that you make play a part of your homeschool environment. Please share!
If you agree with these thoughts you may also like reading Can Imagination and Art Help Your Child Succeed?