Choosing Play over Home Schooling
The immedate reaction from many parents and teachers when Lockdown was declared, was one of shock. How would the children be taught all the work that was set out for the year? Schools began setting up remote access for learners, putting together programs and searching for available resources. Many parents joined in the frenzy and wheels were set in motion. Then reality set in!
In many households one or both parents were expected to work from home and there was no-one to look after children. The pressure to complete work, deal with lessons and run homes slowly took its toll. As a result some parents decided to back off and relieve some of the pressure by encouraging their children, especially younger ones, to spend more time in constructive play.
As a grandmother looking after two young children all day, I have realised that teaching is not only a formal activity, but it can take place informally all day long. We tackle school tasks in manageable chunks and don’t apply too much pressure. We use every situation to learn something new, even if it is a value or a new word to add to the vocabulary. In this way a mountain of new knowledge is gained in a more subtle way.
If home schooling is causing your family too much stress, then you may decide to opt out. But this does not mean leaving children to their own devices. Routine, rules and guidelines remain important and there should be a conscious effort to make informal learning a part of each day. Group family cooking sessions, exercising together, games and puzzles, movie nights, story time, gardening, cleaning the house together or singing and dancing as a family, are just some opportunites to experience quality family time.
“Having money to buy toys and materials is nice, but it is not a requirement for play. Having access to many acres of green space is nice, but it is not a requirement for play. All children need to play are love and encouragement from adults, time, space, and the freedom to let their imagination lead. All adults need to opt-in to play is the desire to break free from the status quo and use this current situation to usher a new way of engaging and learning. When your child looks back on how they survived their first (and hopefully only) global pandemic, do you want their memories to be of the stress of remote schooling or the freedom to play?” (Denisha Jones, Ph.D., J.D. DEY’s Director of Early Childhood Organizing and also Director, Art of Teaching Program, Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, NY.)
Find a balance by sticking to what works and brings peace to your home.