Play is an extremely important activity in the development of young minds. Play helps us to learn about the world and ourselves in a way that is fun and accessible. One only has to watch a nature documentary to see that play is universal across nature and particularly in large brained mammals. Play is seen across cultures as an essential to the educational advancement of children.
Throughout our very first years at school, play is encouraged. Then, as soon as we get to middle school, play stops in the classroom. Children have to suddenly adapt a new, more formal setting in their school lives.
I remember finding this actually quite exciting when I was young… it was as if I was suddenly grown up and being treated like an adult. The classroom today is often a vibrant and energetic environment but there is the pressure of formalised testing which can hover in the child’s mind.
Indeed, a recent report from leading academics has even blamed the rise in testing for a decline in primary school educational standards. The report, published in 2008, warned that increasing levels of testing in English and Maths mean that our kids are just learning how to pass tests rather than improving their overall learning.
Babies and young children are actually very powerful learning computers, so there is no need to patronise them with low expectations. However, it is important to address the need for a relaxed learning environment. It is a good if children can just come home a switch off as we all need down time and recharge our physical and mental batteries. But there are ways we can continue to incorporate down time with education.
I mentioned earlier how our kid’s are like powerful computers. This is a neat way of describing how good they are at picking up information. The problem is that many authorities seem to take this analogy to heart. Children might be great learners but they are also human beings and we must make this clear. If our schools are unwilling to incorporate a more flexible learning structure, then there is plenty we can do at home.
Using a variety of learning styles, you can help children of all ages to soak up information and become curious about the world around them. Parents are a child's most important teacher, and the home can be the best learning environment.
An early appreciation of your child's preferred learning style can help you encourage them to learn when you're working with them at home. It is also important to be aware of your own style as it might conflict with your child's
To being with ensure that your child is in the mood to learn. After an especially tough day at school , it is unlikely your child will want to sit down and have even a fun lesson straight after finishing their homework. Don't chose the end of the week when you are both tired.
Try to introduce information that is of interest to them, don't assume they're interested in what you are. This is a common and costly mistake made by some parents who actually take it personally when their child is not interested in the same things they are. Link learning to an existing hobby and use the subject matter to steer you. If you can link information to a child's existing memory bank, that'll help them learn
Turning education into play just needs an open approach with a bit of creativity. Make the information relevant to the child. For example, they may hate maths and see it as pointless, but what about helping them to manage a budget when they go and buy a CD or computer game?
Draw up the shopping list and ask them to tote up the items as you go around the supermarket. If your child feels like they are helping you , they are much more likely to be enthusiastic about getting involved with educational activities and gets them involved with the real world.
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