Joyce Fetteroll answers a parent's questions about learning through play in this excerpt from her blog,
"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 card game."
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 outside."
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 months ago."
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.