Even More Playful Learning

I have mentioned that any kind of formal or planned lessons for homeschooling fell along the wayside with my house obsession. And while our ramp up for moving in one month looms in front of my eyes, and the last of the paperwork and qualifications, along with placing a reliable renter into our old house keeps me busy at odd times, I’ve been turning my eyes back to homeschooling.

I refuse to feel guilty – Emily hasn’t stopped learning, she hasn’t stopped asking questions or getting books from the library, I’ve just not had the sharpest of focus in the past two months. But that focus has come back, and I’ve found that a more “back to basics” approach is really appealing right now.

And what is a back to basics approach?

Put simply, it means engaging Emily’s learning through play. It started with the book Playful Learning: Develop Your Child’s Sense of Joy and Wonder, which I am still reading and will probably re-read several times through as I glean more and more from the text.

I also recently made a first pass through Show Me a Story: 40 Craft Projects and Activities to Spark Children’s Storytelling and obtained some great ideas on that.

Lastly, a book I have only just begun – Wordplay: Fun games for Building Reading and Writing Skills in Children with Learning Difficulties – will hopefully nicely round off my “learning through play” approach. I will talk about this book more in just a moment. But first, the question should be asked – why the focus on playing?

Pat Farenga, editor of Growing Without Schooling magazine, once said, “Fish swim, birds fly, kids learn.” And Lori Goodman and Lora Myers, authors of Word Play write, “playing is children’s ‘work.'” It is what they do, and often, it is how they learn best.

Have you ever heard someone say about their work, the truly contented few of us, “It’s not work to me, it’s fun!”

What if everything was like that? What if we approached each class, each challenge, with just that same attitude? Instead of dreading it, we jumped in and just tried, with open minds and hearts?

I look at my daughter and I see this naturally happy child. She doesn’t see the dark or the sad, she sees the light and happy. Not everything in life is like that, and without a doubt there will be moments of sadness and heartache, but when a child naturally chooses this path, why not foster it and communicate with her in ways she understands and is naturally predisposed towards?

So…playful learning.

Now Wordplay: Fun games for Building Reading and Writing Skills in Children with Learning Difficulties, the most recent book I picked up is geared somewhat towards parents of children with learning disabilities. I say somewhat, because it is written by a parent with at least one child who has dyslexia as well as other learning challenges. When I picked it up I said to myself, Well, my daughter doesn’t have learning disabilities, so I’m not sure if this book will be applicable at all, but I’ll at least read the introduction.

So I did and I was compelled to post about it – because it falls right into line with my own goals for Emily and the base of learning we are currently building. One of the authors wrote,

“Playing these games has also helped Paul and me release a lot of the anxiety we felt watching our children suffer in school. We are confident that when all is said and done — and read — we did everything we could to ensure that Isaac and Emmett will remember their childhood as a time of joy, not of humiliation.”

And it was then that I realized this book I was holding was absolutely invaluable. That it is not limited to fulfilling the needs of a learning disabled child, but that it would help with all children and encourage a sense of play, of fun and learning smooshed happily together like a nice ice cream sandwich.

I’ll take that nice ice cream sandwich any old day.

So I’ll be continuing to read this book and implement some of the learning games along the way.

And I’m happy that today, we will be going bowling again, for the first time in many, many months! Emily was fretting over it yesterday, wondering if she would be any good, if she even remembered how to bowl. Eight months is a looooong time for a little girl. I’m sure she will be fine.

I would have told her, “It’s just like riding a bike,” but she hasn’t learned to ride a bike without training wheels yet!

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