Free Play – Not fill in the blank

“It might surprise parents that, according to the literature, children under seven are supposed to be in child-led,free play environments.” Nathan Willis, Neuroscientist

This above quote is from Nathan Wallis who is a Neuroscience educator. I really love it, not because I’m trying to justify my choices. My older “school aged” child knew the alphabet a few years ago, writes her name and knows her colours as well as basic numbers.

It’s not excusing my lack of appreciation for academia. I myself was reported to be “academically advanced” at the age of 9 and refused to be put up a school grade to stay with my class buddies. I share this because I don’t feel the education system for the most part, is open enough to embrace new ideas.

The fill in the blank type focus of schooling is something that can frustrate me, because what if a student / child has a different concept or way of perceiving certain subject matter? Why is that “not correct”? Why must certain subject dictate the hierarchy of a child’s learning focus for equal portions of time throughout childhood years?

Is outsourcing not a valued skill that we need in this modern age? Can a certain subject be collaborated on from external expertise as a useful entrepreneurial quality? Why must we have equal strengths that reach only shallow depths instead of allowing full self directed immersion to dive deep into one particular interest?

These are the questions I have for the current education model. There are so many life skills not nurtured in the fixated focus on early academics, including and certainly not limited to emotional intelligence, empathy and negotiation.

Why must children learn to read in preschool? Do their parents no longer read to them at this age? Are adults no longer with children to help them find their way at this age? Why must subjects be separated rather than integrated into project and activity based / real life learning that is experiential and ultimately more lasting in memory than regurgitated random facts.

My question is, why not value free play and the beauty it beholds for children so young? Why not allow this time for them to discover for themselves so that their experience and memories remain with them…. rather than forgotten simply because they had no (or little) real personal meaning to them, in a class room environment.

My natural inclination is to just let childhood be beautiful! Learning comes! When it’s needed, applicable and developmentally embraced! Children are curious by nature! You just need to nurture such qualities when the flicker grows strong! Just a little of the voice inside for today. Thanks for reading!

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