Parenting Blog

Quick Thoughts: The Intersection Of Play And Learn

I generated some Twitter chatter this weekend with the OWTK review of the Learning Resources Smart Snacks Counting Cookies board game. One tweet kinda bemoaned the NEED to teach young children – ages 2, 3, 4 – how to count.  But really, it could’ve been an essay on the divide between the broad “Just Let Them Play” and the “Teach ‘Em Something” parental camps.  I guess I fall into the latter of the two groups but I refuse to draw a line in the sand between playing and learning.  Plus, as I remarked in my tweeted response, little kids LOVE to learn, they WANT to learn.  In my own personal experience, this is especially true when there’s an older sibling in the family who can already do math and read.  So why not LET the Pre-K and preschool kids learn and challenge themselves in a scholastic way?  Seems a freakin’ no-brainer to me.

Consider that we’re always learning, even as adults.  Why then must we create some artificial separation between the ideas of playing and learning.  Children are learning while they play; learning about themselves, about others, about what Elmer’s glue tastes like, and about why Daddy is so adamant about not sticking slobbery fingers into electrical outlets.  Of course my 4-year old doesn’t NEED to know how to count right now.  No duh.  She ain’t gonna be double checking her change at the mini-mart, calculating a tip at a bistro, or tabulating her hometown ballclub’s bullpen ERA any time soon but she, like many bright curious children, exhibits a desire to be informed.  I see no reason not to feed that desire while also having fun.  See: sugar packets at a restaurant.  Who doesn’t start teaching basic math with the baby blue Equal and pink Sweet-n-Low packs?  Let’s call this folding in the education (dry) into the playtime (wet), for all you bakers out there.  It’s easy and it’s fun, for them and for you.

My interest in developing my kids’ interest in all things educational isn’t me competing in some sort of parental pissing contest about who’s kid can do what, when, and for how long.  That’s beyond lame and a total waste of time ’cause I don’t define my own self by my Pre-K daughter’s ability to spell her own name, solve 5+3, and find her home state on a map.  Although she can do all of that.  Because she’s awesome.  As am I.

Now wasn’t this fun and educational?

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