Play vs. Work: A False Alternative

Sound advice from Heike Larson at  LePort Schools:

Does a parent have to choose between learning and fun?

We don’t think so. In our view, the learning vs. fun trade-off is a false alternative, and in practice the most profoundly joyous childhood environment is precisely the one which best satisfies a child’s cognitive needs.

Children by nature are curious about the world. They are capable of an astounding amount of early learning when given the freedom to explore to their heart’s content, particularly in an environment of carefully prepared engaging, meaningful explorative activities. In such a setting, learning so-called academic skills, such as handwriting or arithmetic, is experienced as a playful, enjoyable activity. The pleasure and deep satisfaction of such concentrated engagement is natural and to-be-expected because it is consistent with the actual needs of the child. Psychologically, the satisfaction derived is exactly the satisfaction that comes from play. As Maria Montessori put it, “play is the child’s work.” [Play vs. Work: A Wrong Alternative]

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