Guest: Do you go to school?
Guest: Which class are you studying?
V: Junior KG.
Guest: What do you study in school?
V: Do you mean what I do in school?
V: I play in the sand pit, play in the doll house, play with building blocks, play with big tyres, play with my friends.
Guest, confused, turned to me. “Is he in a normal school?”
I wasn’t quite sure about what he meant by a ‘normal’ (or an ‘abnormal’) school but I could get where he was getting to. I suppressed my smile to quietly nod an yes.
Guest (to my son): You should not be always playful. You must also study. You must always be the first in your class. Only then you can grow up in life.
V: First? (Starts counting…) I am usually 3 or 4. Two friends reach school before me everyday morning 😆 But my Amma says I must eat fruits and vegetables to grow up 😛
This conversation left me thinking how habituated we’ve been to see playing and learning as two unrelated things. And learning has always been much about learning facts!
A child building a sand castle in the sand pit may appear like having fun scooping sand out and piling it aside. To some, it might even seem a shabby, unproductive time for kids. If you observe a little longer and perhaps, a little deeper, you will see that the child is working towards a goal. Building a structure in sand cannot materialize without a thought process behind it. And I say ‘working’ and not ‘playing’ because if you were to call out to a busy builder to get back home, no child will instantly drop off the shovel and follow you. None, because there was a goal and they don’t want to leave it unfinished.
If you and I were to build a sand castle, we might do so while striking a casual conversation about the bad traffic, sultry weather or Indian politics. However, if you observe children while building sand castles, they would either do their job quietly or get into a conversation only about sand castles and nothing else; for instance, “My castle is bigger than your’s”, “Do you know who lives in my castle?”
So, building a sand castle is not a random scooping of sand; they learn to set a goal, focus on it and apply skills.
Why do we, as grown ups, miss to see the learning involved when children play?
Why do we even expect a learning outcome in all that they do?
Should childhood be all about learning or playing?
Here comes a new series on my blog, All about Playtime. I am not a parenting expert or an educator. It’s just my love and interest in kids’ playtime that this series is solely coming from my experience as a mother.
Please join me, not only as readers of this series, but also as active parents.
Let’s understand the power of play;
facilitate our children’s playtime and
allow them to savor what their childhood deserves!