5 play tips for parents homeschooling
Do children play just for fun or is there more to it?
Playing is fun and everyone does it. We play probably more than we realise. We play to find out how something works, we play to unwind, we play to build connections with others.
Play is so important. It fosters creativity, collaboration and problem-solving, all of which are important for good mental health. Playing is a fantastic way to develop relationships and resilience. It releases feel-good hormones, meaning it literally makes you feel good and lowers stress levels.
Teachers use play to engage students and to make the learning more memorable and accessible. It is much easier to learn, and remember, a new skill or piece of information if you are interested and invested in the topic. Gamifying lessons can help children to see a purpose to the learning which is always a good thing.
Here are 5 tips for increasing play in your home.
1. Gamify learning
Turning a task into a game can make it feel safer. If you fail (or 'die') in a game, you get another go straight away. In fact, you get as many goes as you want, forever, until you get it right! Gamification removes the pressure of failure which, sadly, for many young learners, is a feeling they intrinsically associate with learning. Take fear of failing away and watch them resiliently try, try and try again!
2. Follow a topic-based child-led approach
Find out what your child is interested in and theme their learning around that topic. For example, if your child is interested in dinosaurs, research them, use art materials to make them, their footprints or fossil replicas. Learn about scales and ratios when comparing dinosaur sizes. Explore maps as you discover where fossils have been found. Topic learning is a great way to cover a range of subjects without feeling like you are learning.
3. Use drama and role play
Children love pretending and taking on different roles. Get them to be explorers, scientists or astronauts and set them their learning challenge. They can prepare their important findings and present them in a variety of ways, including news reports, blog posts, podcasts and letters.
Taking on roles allows the children to see things from different points of view. Present them with a new rule or law and challenge them to think about how different people would react to it.
4. Think about the purpose of the work
If children can share their work with someone then take the opportunity to make the task a real-world activity. Can the children share their writing with a friend or relative? Can they write a quiz and become the quizmaster?
5. Make daily mundane tasks fun
Finally, as a general survival tip, if the normal daily tasks are proving a challenge, see how you can make them fun. Make getting dressed a race and challenge your child to beat their time from the day before. Play I spy on your daily walk and challenge them to find a complete list of items. Sing a song while tidying up or play a fun countdown timer.