Re-Emergence of PLAY! Woo Whoooo!
One of the most influential experiences of my life was listening to Pat Montgomery speak at a Home Schooling Conference in Tacoma Washington. We were on the University of Puget Sound Campus, years before our daughter Allison would have a scholarship to go there for 5 years. I remember kind of day-dreaming during the talk, when all of the sudden I heard her say, "The work of a child is play." I think I turned to Cyndy and asked her, "What did she say?" When I heard it again, I was glued to her for the rest of the talk.
Since that time, whenever I mention this to other parents who home school, the almost universal reaction is eyes rolling and a mental shut down. Even Cyndy has said several times, "Mark, you have to be careful about saying that. People get the wrong idea. They think we don't do anything else in the early years but irresponsibly allow our children to play." Of course we do other things, but that isn't the point.
I am currently a graduate student in my first year, at Utah State University. I am subscribed to the Journal of Learning Sciences. This is a journal that may publish about 12% of the articles submitted if that. So the stuff has to be good. I was scanning past articles for another topic I will soon blog about, "Case-based Learning for Middle School Kids" (A type of learning that many believe is only found at Harvard, Standford, and other graduate school environments) when I found an article entitled "Rescuing Play". I thought to myself, could a journal of this type, actually be publishing an article about the benefits of children playing? Could there actually be some academic evidence to consider about this topic that for so long I have felt so ignored about? Turns out there is.
So the link below is the article. The article is short, and the interview and discussion with the authors, a bonus, is also short. It isn't at all too academic to read. And actually brings up several key points I hadn't thought of. I had planned to blog on this topic anyway. I have been studying the various learning theories (and I stress theories) and have been surprised at how a couple these theories strongly support the idea of "play" as well. In order share that stuff, I was stumped on how to present it, without getting all complicated about some theory in order to do it. I just haven't got it down well enough to present it simple yet.
Anyway, I encourage you to read this and ponder it. While we are free to use any method to teach at our children at home, we are not free from the consequences of that choice. There are different influences associated with each "method, curriculum and approach" and they aren't all good. Some "influences" associated with our choice of method, are subliminal, and harmful as I have said before. So as you read this article, consider the influences on the mind of your son or daughter, from using play earlier, and more frequently from age 5 to 12 or so.
Click Here to read Article from The Journal of Learning Sciences