Play is the highest form of research - Einstein
“Rohan, stop playing and do your home-work”, ‘’The only thing you ever want to do is play, when will you complete your work?”
Have we not heard this hundreds of times or used it ourselves as parents and teachers?? Somehow, most of us do not consider play as learning! We perceive it as something to be done after studying /home-work, something to be done in the spare-time (that too if the child has any at all…. what with the amount school-related work).
Play is considered to be as some kind of break from learning or studies. But do we know that most learning happens through play. Look at the above quote…… Einstein considers play to be the highest form of research. What a profound statement.
When I look at my 5-year old playing I see her so engrossed, so happy…. she is in her own make-belief world. Sometimes, I don’t even feel like disturbing her world to remind her of her school work.
But is she learning through her play? Yes, she is learning a lot more than what books can teach her. What is she learning? She is learning how to imagine….. a child’s mind is free and can think of the impossible. She is being creative…. inventing new games and rules. Use and practice of vocabulary and learning of new words. Social interactions, acceptance of others views, listening skills, team work, tolerance, element of curiosity, freedom of expression, experimenting …. all this and much more.
This is learning….. this is not a waste of time. Separating play and learning is not helping anyone. We are creating adults who are unable to think or imagine. It’s time that we as parents and educators bridge the gap between play and learning.
Let your children learn through play by providing them with the right opportunities to learn. Initially it will take you time to provide the learning environment but slowly when one starts thinking of play seriously, its not difficult. Every environment is a learning opportunity. Especially, at the pre-school and primary level it is important to provide plenty of opportunities to kids to learn through play.
I take my daughters help to sort the vegetables before putting in the refrigerator…this simple play has taught her names of vegetables, colour identification, grip over holding objects, sorting. She now has many questions-“Why do we put vegetables in the fridge, why can’t we put them in the freezer?” And of the like…
She also feels very responsible that she is being asked help for a chore.
Or involve them in simple cooking activities….like making custard. Oh! the excitement on her face. The child learns a sense of measurement, what happens when ingredients are mixed, names of ingredients and most importantly its science after all.
Another thing kids love is flour and water. They love playing with it and creating shapes. Add a bit of food colour and you have home-made play dough!
It’s not difficult in a school scenario too. Teachers have to learn to be open-minded and learn to think differently and understand it’s not about them…….its about the students in their care.
Next time you see your or other kids playing, observe them closely and see what’s happening. Think about what they are learning. No play is a waste. Involve yourselves in your kids play every once in a while so if you have any learning objectives in your mind you can put them into the play.
Be a kid for life and Play!!
Author of this article is Headmistress of Vanita Vishram School, Mumbai. She is currently involved as a Play Ambassador through LIFE, PAL in collaboration with LEGO.