Play is the greatest research. – Albert Einstein
Most of us reflect back fondly on the ease of childhood, the ease in which we sought amusement. The daily activities of following our imagination outside of the lines, climbing in the tree house to escape to another jungle world, playing catch in the park, testing measurements of ingredients for the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe. These types of unstructured playtime are not just memories that reside in our subconscious; they are essential to a child’s social development to understand and grow into our adult years. This is why it is critical to incorporate playtime into the daily life of home-schooled children, as playtime is often the foundation of learning.
While home-schooled children may have a different lesson plan than the typical elementary student play is still key to the educational environment. In fact, there is information and value in almost any type of activity. Not all concepts come from a textbook: the act of hitting a baseball across the yard can relate to current or future lessons. Through this, children begin to learn about physics by examples of measurements, distance, and speed.
Board games also afford opportunity for children to engage and learn while simultaneously being entertained. Mastering simple games invokes curiosity to ask questions, and in return seek more answers in a stimulating environment. Games allow for dialogue, discussion and understanding rules and it is simple to relate broader lessons of problem solving. It also allows children to bond with other children and exercise their learning about the people around them. They build relationships which is something that home-schooled children could potentially lack in comparison to the average student. Playing with friends exhibits extroverted behavior: sharing, cooperation, and team-building are skills one does not simply grow into but acquires with experience and over time. Many parents join homeschooling lunchtime activity groups in order to promote more social interaction for both themselves and their children.
Along with social interaction, play encourages the use of imagination and the strengthening of passions. Students test and develop their personal interests by exploring the possibilities of creating, building, writing, cooking. This imagination turns into creativity, which is boundlessly rich in value for any developing child. Creativity is one key root factor in education so that as children mature into adulthood they exercise these hobbies that shape them into individually unique characters.
Being outdoors is a place home-schooled children can adventure freely and is another critical factor to the overall well-being of a child’s growth. If a child is inactive from early-age, this inactivity will likely follow them through adulthood. As a consequence hey run the risk of obesity, stroke, diabetes, and high blood pressure, according the the American Heart Association. For this reason alone, it is recommended for children to participate in daily physical activity. In relation to homeschooling, experts agree that the great outdoors has huge health benefits for children, including concentration and social development. CNN.com reports that, “a recent multicenter study of more than 11,000 eight- and nine-year-olds, led by pediatric researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, in New York, showed that kids who had at least 15 minutes of recess a day behaved better in class.” The outdoors is also a classroom for the weather, animals, and plants.
It is true that learning is rooted in play and is necessary for home-schooled children. It gives both the children and their parents the chance to exercise, relax, and rejuvenate. And as we grow older with more understanding of the world through knowledge and education, it serves as a beautiful past time to reflect upon.