How Play And Learning Go Hand-In-Hand
The school year is almost over! Soon your kids will be flying out of the doors at Walden and joyfully announcing their arrival home…for the entire summer.
What happens now? What are you going to do with your kids for the holidays? Where will you go? How do you keep your kids’ minds active for the next many weeks? What’s the best way to answer “I’m bored. There’s nothing to do.”
The answer is play. There’s always play.
I am a great admirer of Sir Ken Robinson, a British author, speaker and international advisor on education in the arts to government, non-profits, education and arts bodies. His 2006 talk, “Do Schools Kill Creativity” has been viewed online over 40 million times and seen by an estimated 350 million people in 160 countries.
Actually, one of my favourite pictures is me with Sir Ken and he’s a powerful proponent for the importance of play in a child’s learning journey.
I was recently listening to one of Sir Ken’s presentations in which one of the many smart things he said was this, “Play is a highly beneficial and deeply natural way in which kids learn… Play has deeply important roles in the development of intellectual skills, in social skills, in developing empathy, in stretching our imaginations and exploring our creativity
Nature inspires curiosity.
There’s a temptation in some educational circles to view play as frivolous and a waste of time. Wouldn’t the kids’ time be better spent learning arithmetic or delving into the biology of a frog?
No doubt, there’s still a lot of merit in what we use to call the three Rs - Reading, Riting and Rithmetic - and our Walden kids are well schooled in the basics and beyond. What is really important as well is creating an environment in which young minds can thrive, where curiosity is inspired, where children desperately want to explore. And that’s where nature comes into play.
When we founded Walden International School we were inspired by Henry David Thoreau’s book Walden in which he wrote, “The indescribable innocence and beneficence of Nature -- of sun and wind and rain, of summer and winter -- such health, such cheer, they afford forever!”
We are all creatures of nature.
In an age where we’re more and more becoming beholden to technology we created our school with a commitment to fostering independent, self-reliant learners in a nature-centric environment. Our mandate is to model for our students the merits of subscribing to an unadorned approach to living while developing a worldly view in pursuit of academic excellence.
Here’s Sir Ken again:
“I believe very strongly in the importance of developing children’s natural talents. I believe very strongly in the importance of creativity. I believe very strongly in the importance of children learning together, being active, being physical.”
“A lot of this is about paying attention to your children. It’s hard to overestimate how valuable it is to your kids that you spend time with them just to be with them: just to play and fool around with them – to be focused and to give them your attention. It might just be ten minutes here and there.”
“Our kids are spending far too much time being sedentary, sitting down, being physically inactive when they should be up and about, moving, doing practical activities and playing. Play is a fantastically serious activity. We really want to get this higher up the priority list and say this is a very important part of the school day.”
“These are ways that children learn to be much more resilient and independent.”
And that brings me back to the common refrain of summer - “What can I do?” And why again we respond “Go outside and play.”
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to enjoy a walk in the fresh air.
Thanks for stopping by.
Head of School
P.S. If you’re still wondering about what to do with your kids this summer check out our extraordinary Summer Camps!