Today’s Smarty Camp Guide is by our friends at Providence Day School.
Hi Smarties! Spring is here, which means summer is just around the corner. Time to start thinking about those warm, sunshine-filled days that are just brimming with possibilities. School’s out and it’s time to play. Your kids will benefit in so many ways.
Playing is Learning
by Linda Walker, Lower School Counselor
As a school counselor, a good portion of my day is spent answering questions from adults about their children:
“How can I help my child with his reading homework?”
“How can we help our daughter be excited about learning?”
“What can we do to make certain that our child is being academically challenged? “
These are important questions. The answers might be found in play.
During a classroom lesson with 5th graders, I asked students to share what kinds of work they looked forward to as adults. Rather than a rush of answers, the room was nearly silent. No one was ready to share. No doctors or veterinarians. No lawyers or business owners. No teachers. Nothing.
Finally a student said, “Well, I don’t know about the others but I don’t think I want to do work.” I was stunned. When I probed more, he shared that every night his parents came home from work and at dinner they talked to one another about the stresses of the day.
As an 11 year old, he heard nothing that even remotely sounded like fun. I asked about the concept of “meaningful work” — doing things that mattered in the world, giving to others, making beautiful things. Nothing. Just the simple statement, “I’m not sure that growing up is such a good deal.”
Their observations lead me to think that children know the answers to the adult questions. Learning and work do not have to be drudgery.
Developmentally, learning and play are linked.
Children cannot imagine a life without play. For them, it is simple.
– If you want your child to love to read, she needs to see you love to read. Use funny voices.
– Look for opportunities to do everyday math.
– Make the trip to the grocery store a rich and exciting learning experience.
– Remember that science is everywhere.
For children, work is done best when it is grounded in fun, creativity, and relationships.
Some years ago, we studied the philosophy generated by the Pike’s Fish Market employees. Among the fishmongers were those who went to work in the dark of night to unload cold fish, arrange the fish for sale and finally present the fish to the public.
This was hard, dark and cold work but someone in the group began singing and calling out to the customers in a playful way, tossing the purchased fish to one another on the way to be wrapped. Soon, the entire group was “playing.” They were making fun a part of their day as a way of balancing the difficult work.
Now, people from all over the world visit the fishmongers in Seattle. Businesses, schools and families have adopted their philosophy.
Children don’t need to throw fish, but they do need for adults to remember that play is the way that children learn.
They need for their curiosity and experimentation to be honored. They want and need to use all their senses to investigate their world. Physical activity is essential. Games and songs, rhythms and rhymes, color and texture, counting, sorting, collecting, pretending, reading and story telling are their tools.
Give children an opportunity to play and watch learning happen.
Play. Learn. Create.
Providence Day offers a wide range of half-day and full-day one-week camps for children ages 3- adult. June through August.
Phone: (704) 887-7006
Providence Day School
5800 Sardis Road
Charlotte, NC 28270