Time is finite. Rare is the person who feels as though they have enough time. It behooves all to use time wisely. Would it not be most advantageous to engage in activities that show evidence of multiple concurring benefits? Increased energy, empathy, egalitarianism and emotional intelligence are just the beginning of the benefits of play. Add in the ability to make mistakes with low-stake consequences and greater automaticity of the DMN [default mode network] how can anyone continue to question the importance and benefit of play (Dearbury & Jones, 2020)? Yet, time and time again we as homeschooling parents place a higher value on the “academic tasks.” Let’s flip that script and take some time think about how we can integrate play by making smart and simple in our choices in our homes.

– Create space for children to answer their own questions. Is there time in your homeshooling life for children to explore questions and topics of interest? You all have heard me ask this questions before. Back a little over a year ago, my second child was giving me a run for my money when it came to writing because he didn’t see the point or application to real life; so, in a desperate move we started doing personal projects. Not only did these projects reduce the number of tears [his and mine] during writing time but it injected space to explore and answer questions of his own choosing. His creativity, playful nature, and energy took over and the results were incredible. If you don’t have space for your child to ask and answer his or her own questions – you need to stop and make the space right now. You’ll get more space back than you gave up.

– Find a way to integrate safe experimentation. For example, instead of practicing math facts on a timed test or a worksheet, can you create a snack shop where the only way to get snack for the day is to order off the menu and pay with the appropriate change or number of tokens? What child isn’t going to order more than one item if mom created a truly appetizing menu? There’s no risk! Mistakes are going to happen and trying again is encouraged. Could the snack shack stay up for the week? Would extra snack times be a problem?

Need more convincing? Don’t listen to me. Read some Dr. Seuss. Oh, the Thinks You Can Think and Hooray for Diffendoofer Day! to be specific.

Need a shortcut? I’ve got you. Check out the two quotes below.

“Think left and think right and think low and think high.
Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!”

Oh, the Thinks You Can Think

“Don’t fret!” she said,
You’ve learned the things you need
To pass that test and many more –
I’m certain you’ll succeed.

We’ve taught you that the earth is round,
That red and white make pink,
And something else that matters more –
We’ve taught you how to think.”

Hooray for Diffendoofer Day!

Learning comes in all sorts of forms. And thanks to our DMN our brain stores information better when it comes in the form of creative activity and play. So, build in the time. So you can build up energy, empathy, egalitarianism and emotional intelligence in your children and yourself. Build a new normal. Keep it smart. Keep it simple. Keep on playing.

Dearybury, J., & Jones, J. P. (2020). The Playful Classroom. Jossey-Bass.