Here, in the long and drawn out, slowly revealed, reasons we home school is reason number three. I keep these percolating in the back of my mind as each busy day evolves. It just takes a while, with three homeschooled kids, other posts I want to write, a ballet recital coming up… to actually put words into form.
“Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play children learn how to learn.”
(O. Fred Donaldson)
Reason Three: Play Happens (and I like to watch it happen)
It was school time. Such as it is in our house; time to gather for our morning circle and discuss what we hoped to do with our day. It wasn’t a very busy day, no errands until the late afternoon and everyone’s teeth were brushed. I was about to call the kids to the table when I realized I didn’t want to interrupt school time.
They had set up an elaborately organized “book store” on and around our piano. There was even a jewelry section for Sister-Bug to buy or sell her jewelry. They were recommending books to each other and selling back and forth. I scrapped our circle time and handed them a stack of play money.
In the time we would have had “school”, they taught each other more math than I ever would have in a day. Brother-Bug carefully helped his Sister figure out which number was which. They were adding and making change and having a ball. I have no worksheet to point at what they learned. I won’t be testing them on this. It was just fun.
“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” (Fred Rogers)
Homeschooling allows us to see the rich possibilities in each moment because we aren’t bound by test requirements or the schedules and needs of 30 kids. Our play enriches our days and allows us to watch our kids develop skills that we can then expand in more in-depth (and possibly structured) ways.
Lately Toddler-Bug has been doing his best to be involved, so now they are all learning how to include a range of ages and talents in their games. Kids learn almost everything they really need to know – like working with that range of ages – while they play. The process everything. The explore concepts of all kinds and we may or may not know what they are working on.
We have been studying “real life superheroes” recently. People like Nelson Mandela or Clara Lemlich (I included a link there because you probably aren’t familiar with the indomitable Ms. Lemlich) who have used super powers like determination, compassion, and courage to change the world. Sister-Bug has been delighted by Clara Lemlich. She likes playing “factory bosses” with Papa-Bug. He plays the cruel factory boss opressing the workers at a garment factory. Sister-Bug is Clara and runs around screaming “STRIKE” and walking out until Papa-Bug caves and gives her better working conditions. In a unique twist, the two older kids raced into the living room mid-game. There was StarWars shooting sound effects coming from Brother-Bug. Sister-Bug jumps on the couch and declares: “You can’t get me with your Podracer! I am Clara Lemlich and I AM UN-CRUSHABLE!!!” It was…perfect. And totally weird. I can’t make this stuff up and I am so glad that I get to be the audience for their creativity.
Perhaps most importantly, childhood is such a fleeting moment of our lives. In the all-to-near future they will have jobs and college commitments and bills to pay and other responsibilities that structure their days. It happens. Right now, they have much of the time they need just to be. To play. To live fully in that world of amazing imagination where anything is possible. Our homeschooling honors that.
Want more reasons?
P.S. If you want a great picture book about Clara Lemlich, check out Brave Girl by Michelle Markel.