As I get closer and closer to meeting my daughter for the first time in a week or so, give or take, and as I see baby Einstein books coming in the mail, it makes me quite excited to see what Abrielle will be like. What will she look like? What will her personality be like?
And as I am finishing up this little series about play, I am, of course, wondering what playing with her will be like.
Play as a means of teaching/learning
Looking at all of these baby Einstein books have provided a solid reminder…children naturally “play.” You don’t get them to “learn” by getting them to “stop playing and pay attention” or anything…you get them to learn by directing their playing to something educational. This is a “duh” of elementary education. It is noticeable in how math is taught, how spelling is taught, etc.
And as for taekwondo? Master Lyon (my instructor and our school owner) always taught us as instructors, “Teens and adults want to learn karate, kids between 7 and 12 want to do karate, 4 through 6 year olds want to play karate.” Telling a “tiger” (that’s what we call our 4, 5, and 6 year olds) to stand still or stand like a black belt is only so effective. Having a RACE to see who can stand like a black belt first (which means feet together, hands by your sides, standing still, and if your feet aren’t together you can’t win) is far more effective. Tigers learn by games. Races. Mini-competitions for the loudest yell. Strongest punch. Fastest kick. And if the student stands still…they get to play the “high block game” where if I can touch their head with my blue padded stick, I win, but if they can stop me from touching their head, they win.
And they learn. They learn through play.
And as for church?
I don’t remember any messages or sermons from elementary school ages at church. I DO remember adults (not my parents) who wanted me to sit in church so that I would learn. However, the first sermon that my memory can recall was from when I was about 13 or 14. I had sat in church many times at that point…but I do not recall a single sermon before that time.
I DO, however, remember games and stories and pictures. I remember Norm Davis giving us little jawbreaker candies if we answered a question. I remember learning about who David and Goliath was by doing a connect-the-dots paper until it resembled them. I remember matching characters to their counterparts by drawing lines.
I remember the negative taste left in my mouth by adults who demanded that I sit in big church, although I didn’t learn anything in big church (does any child?). I also remember doing fun stuff in Sunday School, with a bunch of other people my age whom I got to know over the years. I don’t remember a thing about sermons. I learned about Jesus, God, Adam, Eve, David, Goliath, King Saul, Jonathan, Peter, Paul, Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob, all from Sunday School games & crafts.
As for school?
At my prime, I was typing 80 WPM. I am now consistently at 60 WPM. Why? Because of that driving game that was part of Mavis Beacon teaches typing. I learned a bunch of random facts from Jeopardy for the NES. I learned about different types of fighter jets from Air Combat for the Playstation.
Even though we didn’t really do division until third or fourth grade, I could do division in Kindergarten. And it’s not because of any inborn ability…I had a “speak-n-math” that I played with. As well as a “speak-n-spell” that I used to learn to spell tough words.
The point: If the instinct and desire to play is ENCOURAGED and FED, maybe we can learn more, faster?
Not just for kids, but for adults, too. Assassin’s Creed piqued my interest in Pope Alexander VI (Rodrigo Borgia), leading me to Wikipedia. Same story goes for the history of Russia and Russian leaders. Video games piqued my interested and led me to Wikipedia. And how many people learned about WWII from the first three Call of Duty games?
If play can be utilized, maybe more can happen?