Play To Learn and Learn From Play
I’m ready for school, Mom!
My son, whom I call “Little Man”, is loving school. No! Really! He is! Almost every day, he will come in to “the learning center” (aka. our living room), get into his chair at his desk or grab my hand to pull me out of my seat and happily exclaim, “I’m ready for school!” He’s excited and eager to explore and fill his curious mind with information about the world he lives in. When I say it’s time to stop for the day, he will often beg for more. There is something to be said for that. Color me a happy at home mom and teacher!
Learning Can Be Fun
We play to learn and we learn from our play. We use all sorts of dynamic and interesting approaches to lessons that make them enjoyable. Kids are sponges and want to learn new things. Studies show they learn better when play is included in their lessons. When it’s fun and interesting, the time goes by quickly and the information tends to be retained better. Yes, we have “seat time” and we practice things like handwriting and do math drills. But we do it in such a way so that it’s not boring or an intense brain drain that he dreads and can’t wait for it to be over. It’s very creative and alive.
Flexibility Wins Again
Let me explain. Although some may disagree with our approach, we’ve chosen to not be strict in our home education structure. We remain flexible. I make loose plans and set goals we wish to achieve for each week but I try to keep in mind that these are not set in stone. We flow with it to make it exciting and new every single day, even though we are doing lots of repetition. We capitalize on what I call “teachable moments”. If my son expresses an interest in something, we go with it and delve into that particular subject. One day it may be planets and outer space that catches his curiosity. The next day it may be koala bears or palm trees that may strike his fancy.
A Recent Teachable Moment
Circumstances will often dictate our days. For example, I’ve been fighting a terrible cold and struggling with little to no voice for a week or more. So I’ve tried to give “quiet” lessons each day in an attempt to save my voice. Last week, I gave Little Man my white board and told him to practice writing and drawing. Here’s a photo of what he did.
Can you tell what it is? Don’t feel bad, if you can’t. I couldn’t either. Ready for this? It’s a mouthful of teeth! Cute, huh? Little Man also came up with a tooth brushing game to play with his drawing. The eraser was a toothbrush and the markers were used to color code different things the teeth needed to be happy and healthy. There were bits of food and stains that had to be removed and “sugar bugs” that had to go. The goal was for all the teeth to smile big and bright because they were being well taken care of. LOL….What an imagination that one has!
So I just went with it, taking the open opportunity to teach about why we have teeth, good oral care and why it’s important. We wrote out words like “tooth”, “mouth”, “brush”, “floss”, etc. We had a fun “made us giggle” creative story time with scenerios and characters we made up along the way and things they should do or shouldn’t do when caring for their teeth. I then printed out a couple of worksheets to further the lesson.
One Subject Matter Can Cover So Much
Home education or lessons don’t have to be stressful, complex, long or cumbersome. The goal is to learn and broaden horizons, right? One lesson can cover several subjects for your lesson time. In the impromptu oral health lesson, the drawing counted as Art for the day. The writing was part of his Penmanship and the words were counted as Reading and Spelling lessons for the day. The subject matter was his Science that day. The whole of the matter applied towards his Life Skills & Practical Concepts for the day. Six (yes, I said 6) school subjects were covered with one assignment, and all in 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Not bad, if I do say so myself.
As my son grows older, I’m sure our teaching techniques will have to grow with him. I’m also sure that the fun and excitement will remain in our school days no matter how old he gets. For now, we’re keeping it easy and breezy, with lots of flexibility to tap into his interests and expand his knowledge horizons.
Playing to learn. It works for us.
Do you incorporate play into your at home education lessons? What ways have you found to help make learning fun?