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Two years ago at this time we were facing the idea of Raeca going into kindergarten in the fall. We had enrolled her in the same semi-private school we had both attended for the majority of our education (Jared went there from K-12 and I did from 5-12).
I remember thinking about how kindergarten had moved towards a play-based education and it made me irritated.
I specifically remember thinking “We are going to be paying to send her to school and all she is going to do is play; I want her to learn!”
I thought that in order for her to be learning she needed to be sitting in a desk (or at a table), listening to the teacher and “actually learning something.”
It’s taken me two years but I’ve totally changed my tune.
Maybe it is because Raeca is my firstborn but I find I’ve spent most of her life pushing her to do things earlier than she is naturally inclined to do. This year our school year started out very structured and has definitely come around to a bit of an unschooling approach, I think partly because I’ve come to realize that Raeca is already 6, which means if she leaves home at 18 like I did she is already 1/3 of the way out the door.
Over these last few months I have come to appreciate and value learning through play.
Children are naturally curious and play is a way for them to explore the world around them.
This past year I have seen play help my children form a stronger bond and go from siblings (kids that put up with each other because they need to) to really really good friends. There have been many days this winter where they would finish their breakfast and immediately head downstairs to play until lunch and every time they would hear my feet on the stairs they were afraid I was telling them it was time to stop for whatever reason.
I have seen them work together to figure out a problem when they disagree with each other.
I have seen them have compassion when the other gets hurt.
I have seen them take turns trying to teach each other something that is a strength of theirs.
I have seen so many benefits of play this year I couldn’t list them all here (or honestly, even remember them all).
I’ve now come to realize that play is something we take away from kids way too early. We make them sit in desks for hours on end when their bodies just need to move and their minds need to be working on something they are genuinely interested in.
I’m far from perfect and I’m still going to push my children at times but I’m learning to step back a little and let them learn as much as they can from play.
What benefits do you see as a result of kids having a chance to play?
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