Thursday, April 25, 2013

Why and How Play is Important in Our Homeschool

Preschool was a breeze for my son. He was always one step ahead of me. I was the one who wasn't ready for him to keep going and it seemed to me that I was always scrambling to get him books or information he was interested in.

Towards the end of his Kindergarten year (this school year), my son again showed me he was one step ahead of me.  He did not want to rush through school. He wanted to be immersed in learning.  


While before school took only 1 to 2 hours, it seemed to increase overnight to 4 hours with me rushing through it and with my son not enjoying it at all. I really wanted to be 'done' with school sooner so that we could have more time to play and relax afterwards. My son, on the other hand, wanted a lot more time to absorb  new information. 

One of the two dialogues we had one day:

While studying our Weather Unit, our son was writing in his weather log:
Me: Come on! You are done! Let's get back inside. Nothing else to write. We can have a break and we can do Math after the break.
Son: It's beautiful outside Mama. Look! All blue skies, no clouds, slight breeze. We could play hide and seek in this weather!

On the same day, after our lessons on Vikings,
Son: Let's play Vikings. You can be a Viking woman.
Me: Do I have to be Gunnhild? Can I just take photos of you? I don't want to play. We have so many things still to do.
Son: No Mama. You have to go on a Viking raid with me. My bed is the longship, ok?

After complaining to everyone that boys really don't LISTEN, it finally clicked. I thought my son didn't LISTEN to me, when actually I wasn't listening to HIM and his NEEDS. My mistake was not acknowledging that PLAY is important in my son's LEARNING! When I realised this, I allowed PLAY BACK INTO OUR HOMESCHOOL and what a difference! 


from Lori Pickert's Project Based Homeschooling

Homeschooling now can last 5 to 6 hours a day, but I'm not the nag I hated and my son now immerses himself in his lessons. Overnight, he began to really cherish his homeschool days. When I recently asked my son what the best part of our homeschool days are, he didn't hesitate,

"All of it Mama! I'll never want to go to [another] school if you keep teaching me THIS way Mama!"

What do I do differently? After we study each subject, if my son wants to 'play' after his lesson, we PLAY. This play usually means reenacting everything we just studied. After a Math exercise on dollars and cents, for example, he wanted to play cashier: writing receipts, calculating how much I owed the cashier and giving me change. After a lesson on Storms, he pretended to see snow, sleet, hail and rain outside the window, and described the temperature and sky conditions each needs to form. It seems to me that these crucial times of PLAY are my son's way of TESTING his own knowledge. What a creative and subtle way to find out what he learned!

from Lori Pickert's Project Based Homeschooling

When I allowed my son time to play after each lesson, I learned that PLAY TIME is KEY in the PROCESS, IMMERSION and ENJOYMENT of his LEARNING. Plus, Mama isn't a sourpuss anymore. In fact, she gets to have lots of fun in the process too.

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