Thursday 25 June 2015

Just Play and Learn

Every holiday, my kids get to play their hearts out be it locally or overseas. This June holiday, it is no exception. Although we didn't travel too far this time, they still played like there's no tomorrow. We hardly did any studying yet, they learnt a lot purely by playing.
Kids pretending to be construction workers... I couldn't but help hear 'Bob the builder! Can we fix it? Yes, we can!' ringing in my ears as I watch them, LOL!

The kids learnt aplenty during their visit to Kidszania. I adore it's play concept! The kids earned money 'working' as a professional and spent as they buy services. The kids learned to ration their dollars, made decisions if they want to splurge or save etc. At the same time, they gained insights on how the various professional work their part. All that learning in one place! 

It makes me wonder how learning would be if we remove the rigidity of the classroom and restructure it like Kidszania? Where each classroom focuses on a specific concept. Imagine, the school would be a one stop learning center where the kids learn hands on and apply on the go. Imagine every point is a learning center where they learn math through counting their dollars. There would be no shortage of science learning with learning laboratories like say, a chocolate 'factory' or 'hospitals' with perhaps occasional appearance of real doctors.

And how would they learn language? They would learn how to converse as a professional or as customer everyday. (Versus in the classroom where communication is purely one way) I saw how Sonshine was 'forced' to speak to the others (something he is reluctant to do) as he work through jobs like postman and courier services. Whereas at school, he keeps quiet because as he claims they are not allowed to talk during lessons AND in between lessons (least the monitor writes their names on the board).

And oh the life skills they would pick up along the way! All encompass in one place, all through play! Imagine what fun learning would be!

Taken during our visit to Kids Stop

As I watched Doll play at Kids Stop, I saw how she picked up social and life skills all through play. She learnt that resources are scare (baskets at the supermarket, brushes at the dinosaurs fossils etc) and she better hold on to them or risk having them taken away. (That's the reality of life isn't it?) At the same time, she understood that the resources are limited so she learnt to wait for her turn (instead of snatching) & better yet, let others have a turn. I saw many times over how she willingly passed on her items to the next child when they politely asked of her. You can imagine my pride! She learnt to exert her stand whenever someone tried to snatched her items from her. She learnt to find alternatives when other kids took over her place. She learnt to be confident and approach the right people when she needs help. She learnt to communicate with her peers and form friendships. All these valuable lessons learnt just by playing and imagining.

We had a blast at Legoland water park!

At play, the children get to explore, create without restrictions and without limited time frame. But in the classroom, they are expected to create a perfectly composed writing or complete a worksheet in all but an hour or even less. At play, there is no right, no wrong. They learn naturally what works and what doesn't. There is no grading, the child is not told he's one mark shy of his classmate. Instead, his every unique creation is celebrated and awed. I love how play sets the children free physically, mentally and emotionally.
Homeschool@sg's photo.
Play sets the children free. Not only them, but us parents too. I found myself more liberated during holidays than school terms. There were no strict routine to follow. The kids and I could wake up any time we want, go any where we want, do anything we want and sleep anytime we want. Best of all, we choose what we want to learn and not be dictated what we should learn. At play, I never scold Sonshine for a careless mistake or pushed him to work harder. On the contrary, at play there are bountiful praises, proud moments and laughter.
It is no wonder that experts strongly advocate the children to play. This June I have witnessed how Sonshine and Doll easily picked up social, life and cognitive skills. Learning is less boxed up instead it is more varied and relevant to real life. I can see how the kids can become more prepared for their adulthood simply through play. How awesome it would be if our schools were organized in such fashion like Kidszania. I've no doubt that the children will learn and absorb more than being confined to a table, chair, and four walls.
The June holidays are ending and I hate that that signals to the end of free play. Rigid routine would set in and there will be more paper chasing which means more yelling and crying. How utterly meaningless! If only schooling is about play. If only schools were more like a playground. If only the authorities would let go and trust that our children will excel even through play. How different schooling would be? I can only imagine. I hope to keep this state of mind even as the school term starts, but knowing me, I know I'd surely get sucked into the day to day pressures. Oh well, I can only look forward to the next holiday and relish the memories I have of this June holidays.

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