Creative Child

Raise the Next Generation of Problem Solvers with More Creative Learning

by Deborah Song

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Consider play as essential. Playing is as natural to kids as breathing so it’s not our kids’ mindsets that need changing but our own. Play is not something extra that’s done completely disparate from education. Play is actually an integral means of learning, exploring, inventing and connecting. Play makes learning relevant. Play expands the mind. Play gives children a chance to think big. Play also teaches kids to take initiative, solve problems, persist and persevere. The idea that learning only happens when kids aren’t having fun, is antiquated and perhaps deeply ingrained from our own educational experiences. But we don’t need to perpetuate this misconception.

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A Germany study found that when comparing 50 play-based preschools and 50 academic preschools, kids who attended play-based preschools performed better in academics. Play isn’t antithetical to learning; it’s a motivational force for learning because curiosity and wonder are the foundation for all learning. As parents we need to dispense with the idea that the most worthwhile learning comes from textbooks.

Admittedly, I have been concerned about my younger daughter for years – the entire duration of her academic career to be exact. She will be attending 3rd grade and has never seemed to show an interest in learning like her sister. She rushed through her schoolwork, complained about doing homework and dragged her feet to school, except on days her class was doing special projects. Admittedly, I chalked her up to the school-isn’t-for-everyone category. But school can be for everyone. Our current school system perhaps just isn’t for everyone.

What my daughter did love to spend her time on, and the reason she rushed through her schoolwork, was so she could play. She loved to craft and invent things. Her latest project, which has taken up the greater part of our garage, was building an airport out of cardboard. From the moment she woke up until she went to bed, she was laser-focused for days.  The girl who shunned even minor discomfort suddenly worked tirelessly in the sweltering sun. She found eating a nuisance. And instead of struggling to find ways to fill her day, there simply wasn’t enough hours in the day.

In recent past, I would’ve lectured her to do something useful with her time alongside playing, like practicing violin or working on her multiplication workbooks. But thanks to the recent epiphany I had while researching for this article, I had the wherewithal to understand she was doing something useful with her time! She was inventing, designing, constructing, persisting, utilizing geometry, ergonomics, physics, and learning to be resourceful. When she exhausted the cardboard supply in our house, she started to ask her neighbors if they had cardboard they could spare. I lauded the efforts I hoped she would repeat and finally supported her play time. I scoured the house for cardboard and parked our cars on the street temporarily so she could utilize the garage. Children aren’t averse to hard work. They’re averse to meaningless busywork.

Deborah Song is the founder of travelbyword.com, a cruelty-free company committed to creating travel accessories that help travelers journey with ease, efficiency and elegance. She loves to travel the globe in pursuit of good food, wider life perspectives and great adventure stories with her kids. Deborah is a Canadian-born, mompreneur and Los Angeles-based writer, who obtained her master’s in journalism from New York University. You can find her travel stories at www.blog/travelbyword.com.

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