Let the children play!
Play is such an important part our childhood; it is crucial in what makes us human beings so smart. It is proved that children who learn through playing will be emotionally more intelligent, better at problem solving and thinking about possibilities. Many studies show that children who learn through playing will preform even better at higher grades and at universities too.
“Play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning.”- Fred Rogers
When I went to primary school (more than 20 years ago…) most children started school from the age of 7 and I don’t remember doing much homework after school.
However in the past years pre-schools and school have been putting more and more pressure on children. Children enter reception and first grade class at a much younger age, and will be taking more dictated lessons and homework. The idea is, that the sooner the children start the more they will learn.
On the other side there is an increasing number of scientists and education researchers who insist, there is little evidence that focusing on this approach improves long-term achievement. In fact, it may have the opposite effect, potentially slowing emotional and cognitive development, and potentially causing stress to children.
My mother is primary schoolteacher and she has been teaching children in first and second grade for over 30 years. We talk a lot about her little student and I have been hearing her having younger and younger and sometimes more troublesome children in her classes. “There are children who are too little and not ready for school yet. Their nerve system is not ready to take in ours of lessons; sitting, listening and learning”, says my mother. She also mentions, that “by giving them structured lessons, we only make it harder for them to learn and they might also feel a little less successful by not being able to perform as well as their peers during lessons. They will of course learn, but at a slower rhythm. On the other hand it is also a lot pressure for the parents nowadays when to put their children to school.”
According to her, “little things during the lesson can help a lot as well. Sometimes when many children starting to loose focus I just do a 5 minutes stretching or breathing exercise with my students and they will be recharged and happy to continue.“
Researches have found that instructive lessons at an early age might actually worsen academic performance. University of North Florida, studied and compared 343 children who had attended a preschool class that was “academically oriented,” and one that encouraged “child initiated” learning. Observing the students’ performance for many years later, they found that by the end of the fourth grade those who had received more didactic instruction earned significantly lower grades than those who had been allowed more opportunities to learn through play.
Jay Giedd, a neuroscientist at the University of California, San Diego, has spent his career studying how the human brain develops from birth through adolescence. He says most kids younger than 7 or 8 are better suited for active exploration than instructional lessons. “The trouble with over-structuring is that it discourages exploration,” he says.
In this rapid world we are living today all we can do is to cherish these years and focus on children’s meaningful play.
Let your children do their own science and explore the way and with the rhythm they want and can learn. Every child and each of us is different!