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Playtime: Education's Great Testing System

  • 2004 22 Mar
Playtime: Education's Great Testing System

Have you ever taken the time to specifically sit and watch and listen to your children play? If you're like me, the moment you call a break from school and the children run off to play, you click into high gear to get that load of laundry out of the dryer; you wash & season the chicken you took out of the freezer this morning to get into the crockpot for dinner time; and you make a "good effort" attempt to nurse the baby to sleep so you can get that shower in.

This particular morning was cool with cloud cover so I spontaneously called for outside playtime first thing in the morning. I had an article to write so I sat out with my pen and pad to write as I watched the children play. I realized then how truly educational playtime really is. Nothing like experiencing it firsthand before the advice suddenly becomes sound.

My eldest daughter enthusiastically suggested, "I know! I'll be the slave running to the North for freedom. Danae and Josiah, you be Mr. & Mrs. Bibbs who help me!" And as I sat watching her think it through, next came, "We need a quilt to hang out the window to give directions--Moooommm!"

Iliana's fascination with learning about the times of the Civil War and slavery spills into the family's playtime. When the time comes to cover more thoroughly the lessons of history at an age appropriate time for the now little ones, this introduction they received at playtime is invaluable. As lessons are being given to the older children, the younger are eating, playing, sleeping and just hanging around taking in bits and pieces of information here and there. They especially get involved when the time comes to make a model of the solar system, for example; even if all they do is pound on clay themselves. Because education is ongoing at all ages and at all times, it is what they are learning that we need to occasionally take inventory of.

"Children learn what they live." That IS sound advice! Again, look and listen to their playtime to realize what exactly they are learning (from us as well as books). It is precious to see the children playing house and having family prayer time before their babies' bedtime. That was a warm moment. But when I witnessed rushing, rushing, rushing, and hurrying to get to church--Uuuuggghhh! A convicting moment of truth. I was the one educated at that instant.

So take a moment to specifically sit to watch and listen to the children's playtime reveal what exactly they are learning and from whom. This also works with your teenagers because their "playtime" is the conversations they sit around and have with their friends. I assure you, you will learn something about yourself. I wish you many warm moments!

Debbie Camacho is a homeschool mother of five, whom she has always taught at home.

This article was published in the Mar/Apr '04 issue of Home School Enrichment Magazine. For more information, visit