Learn Through Play

We believe that children were designed to learn through self-directed play.
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Imaani, Isaiah, and Isaac were playing restaurant. The “customer” sat at the table and ordered a meal, the “server” took the order, and gave the order to the “chef” who immediately began preparing the meal. And so on.
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From ordering to paying, they pretended through every step as if it was an actual dinner taking place in a real restaurant. Imaani even meticulously “washed” the dishes when the customer was finished as if she were genuinely washing dishes. When they were finished, they swapped roles and started again.
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This may seem like normal childish activity, but there’s something deeper taking place that can be easily overlooked. Through free, undirected play, children develop effective communication and social skills, they build cognitive and critical thinking, and they grow in confidence and creativity.
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We couldn’t have planned out the restaurant scenario or force them to participate. That would have only worked against the freedom and self-control that are central features of play. As parents, we can and must, however, provide these high quality learning environments, and ensuring uninterrupted periods of time for our kids to develop their play.
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“When children play imaginative games together, they do more than exercise their imagination. They enact roles, and in doing so they exercise their capacities to behave in accordance with shared conceptions of what is or is not appropriate. They also practice the art of negotiation… Getting along and making agreements with others are surely among the most valuable of human survival skills.” – Peter Gray, Free to Learn

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