Did you know children are so over-scheduled that many doctors are prescribing play? We are actually being told to allow our children to play? How weird is that? When I was a kid, “go play” was a command I heard almost every day and thank goodness for it.
Today it seems so much of children’s play is scheduled and planned, and supervised to a degree that leaves even many homeschooled children without time to simply do their own thing.
On any given day, my daughter is told to just go play, or just go chill. I give her ample time to simply do whatever he wants to do. Sometimes she chooses to play video games. Other days, I challenge her to get more creative by telling her no devices are allowed. She generally complains at first, but then I find her completely focused on creating something, riding her bike, or playing with her dolls in her room.
I love those moments. I love watching her navigate a project, or playing out an elaborate storyline with her dolls. It intrigues me to get inside her head a little without her even knowing I’m nearby. Occasionally, I can snap a quick picture of her to help me cherish the moment.
Children need play
It’s in the play that they get to practice and manage real world situations in a way that feels safe for them. They get to exercise their imagination muscle too and the world definitely needs more of that! It seems creativity is going down the tubes as “the tube” has become handheld.
Children need the freedom to make mistakes
We don’t learn when we constantly get things right. We learn when we mess up. We learn when we get it wrong. We learn when the result isn’t what we expected. We learn when we fall down and get back up and try something different. Children need to the freedom and the opportunities to be able to experience mistakes without punishment.
Children need time to think
Children are constantly presented with new information and new experiences and they need time to process. When we are constantly rushing to the next play date, or rushing to the next extra-curricular activity, or rushing from one lesson to the next, they aren’t given the time they need to process, question, and truly store the information they’re being exposed to. Like my daughter said, “I’m a kid, not a machine.” Truer words were never spoken regarding education.
As many of you know, we have a very loose home school philosophy around here. I do not have a rigid schedule for our daughter and I never plan to. She has only three things she must do most days at this point and she gets to decide what this looks like.
- Read independently and I read aloud to her
- A project or activity
The way I see it, as long as she can read and do math, she can figure out anything. I like for her to do projects or activities because they cover team work, time management, and taking an idea and running with it. These are all excellent skills in our modern world.
Other than that, we make good use of downtime in our home school. That’s when she gets to use the information she’s gathered in her learning. That’s when she gets to have fun and be more creative, relax, and otherwise be who she is. I think this is vital to her development and I guard this time fiercely.
Of course things may change as she gets older and her interests grow and deepen in certain areas and that’s absolutely fine and expected, but what will never change is my encouraging her to take time to relax, process, and tune in. The way I see it, if Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, two of the most successful business men in America today emphasize this, why shouldn’t I emphasize this in my daughter’s homeschool?