Joyce Fetteroll answers a parent's questions about learning through play in this
excerpt from her blog, Joyfully Rejoycing:
"I would really like to get to a point of having them find stuff they
are interested in knowing and go for it. My son gets bored easily unless someone is
completely immersed in play with him that he really likes - like Lego or a Pokémon
Joyce Fetteroll: It sounds like it's part of his personality.
Do you take out the science stuff, board games, books, cool educational electronic
gadgets, Lego, Playmobil, and Tinkertoy worlds, etc. to do on your own? If not, is it
reasonable to expect him to?
My daughter is much like that. Most of the enjoyment comes not from the things but
from sharing them with someone else. I suspect that's why you can often find unopened
kits at garage sales. Not purely because school has sucked any enjoyment out of
anything that looks educational, or because kids lack the imagination to play with
them, but because the kids don't have a parent to share the adventure and discovery
with. If you loved spending time doing things with your husband what would your
thoughts towards him be if he were hoping you could learn to do things on your own?
"I wish she read more and wrote more. She is too busy playing
JF: And in a few years she won't be able to play the way she does now, because
she'll be too old! So whatever it is that kids get out of the playing they do as
children, they need to do it now or it will be too late. She has the rest of her life
to read and write. She only has now to play.
Kids are the age they are for a reason, not because it hasn't been trained out of
them yet. They need to be 3 to prepare them for 4, and 8 to prepare them to be 9.
"The early years should be all about play, not concerned about whether
or not they can count or know their letters."
JF: Yes! What in the world does a toddler need with letters? A teen will find many
uses for them but can't appreciate and explore the nuances of mud - unless they take a
class and call it pottery! We may not be able to understand what a toddler sees in mud
or banging pots or pulling everything off the table, but we need to trust that what
they're finding so fascinating is what they need to explore. It is valuable to them.
"My boys are 12 and 7. Today we went to the library. The only books my
12-year-old wants to read are graphic novels (Dragon Ball Z or InuYasha) but it's a
start, and I try to keep him supplied. I collected books to start our unit on ants.
The 6 year-old played a pinball game on the computer. They rarely pick any books to
take home, just DVDs. So I pick the books and when we get home I ask them to sit and
read with me. But they usually start talking or walk away. I try many different kinds
of books. I did hold their attention long enough to get through a Redwall book a few
JF: "Strewing" can be tricky. We want our kids to have more than, say,
skateboarding, but the more we try to get them interested in other things, the more
they resist because it feels like we're trying to get them to change. It helps to see
strewing not as a way of getting them interested in other things but as providing
opportunities. It's opening doors so they know these things exist, not ways of making
them go through the doors.