2e Tuesday::The Play’s the Thing.


It’s been a while since I’ve done the math monday/2e Tuesday combo…I’ve been so busy playing with the kids this summer! Which brings me to the topic of play. From the time we exit the womb, play is instrumental in learning. Notice how many games we play with newborns on up to preschoolers. (I would include Kindergartners, but have you been in a Kindergarten room lately? NCLB act is having a trickle down affect on the standardization of early elementary grades now.) Games, rhymes, make believe, stories, imaginative play…all this is abundant in early childhood.

And then, it all changes when kids reach ‘school age’. All of a sudden the focus becomes reading by “x” age, writing by “y” age, sitting still and following directions. A fundamental passageway for learning, which is play, is blocked off for the 7 hours kids are at school. For an out of the box, 2e kid it’s like pulling a fish from the ocean and flinging it on land, expecting it to survive. Henri Matisse understood this!

Creative people are curious, flexible, persistent, and independent with a tremendous spirit of adventure and a love of play.
Henri Matisse
French painter

The play’s the thing! The opposite of play is standardization, something that’s happening increasingly more in our public school systems. Education has lost her sense of humor, and if you don’t believe me, start asking the teachers and principle about what kind of play they do during the day. 3 of Naturalists old schools have made recess voluntary on the part of the teacher, meaning it isn’t a mandatory thing anymore. According to the Strong Museum of Play, upwards of 40% of schools have reduced, modified, or eliminated recess from their day.

Recess is being eliminated or reduced because of:
Standardized testing and the desire for more class time
Concerns about supervision and discipline
Fear of playground injuries and lawsuits
Funding considerations
Limited understanding of early childhood development and the role of play in learning

Recesses are being discarded because of pressures to cram even more ‘school’ into a child’s day. Play, being seen as frivolous, is the first to go.

The opposite of play is not work. It’s depression.
Brian Sutton-Smith
Contemporary American folklorist

It took me a couple years to value my kids drive for fun as a powerful learning tool–it’s almost like I’d been brainwashed to believe that if something was fun, it couldn’t be a valid learning experience. Unschooling has helped show me how important and hardcore play is for cognitive development and total immersive learning. The American Academy of Pediatrics also values play, there’s a great report linked through here.

I know my tendency with my out of the box thinkers is to try to get them to be serious and really crack the whip to get them to study/pay attention/learn stuff. However, the best way to facilitate learning is to lighten up. Historical fiction books, comics, computer games (Oh, Oregon Trail, you are brilliant!), art history, movies, living history museums, jokes (mathscience, jokes are everywhere!) TV shows. I call it ‘lowbrow learning’, lol. Ideal for a creative mind.

Most of the articles and quotes I read about the importance of free play are tagged in my delicious…good reading!



2 Responses

  1. Great post!

    Yesterday Owen told me – ” Mom, if it’s not fun, it’s not going to stick in my brain!”

  2. great post – we spent the last year unschooling for K and now I am totally stressed….my little guyPE has asked to try the local public school for first grade…..looking through their schedule I was appalled to see that they don’t have playground time…it is called facilitated PE now…the kids are not actually allowed to just PLAY…they are told what they are to do when they are outside now….I am SOOOOOOOO worried about this whole thing!

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