Children Were Meant to Play

Children Were Meant to Play

In kindergarten, I remember finger painting and playing outside a lot. We would sit on the rug and listen to the teacher read us stories but it was mostly games and fun. Compare this with most preschools and kindergartens today that push academics on very young children. This is about the worse thing you can do for them. They were created to run, play, and create as young children, not be stuck in a chair all day and using fine motor skills since hands since hands aren’t fully developed until seven years old. (I don’t know who wrote the following but it’s true!)

Angela Hanscom wrote, “In fact, it is before the age of seven years — ages traditionally known as ‘pre-academic’ — when children desperately need to have a multitude of whole-body sensory experiences on a daily basis in order to develop strong bodies and minds. This is best done outside where the senses are fully ignited and young bodies are challenged by the uneven and unpredictable, ever-changing terrain.

“Preschool years are not only optimal for children to learn through play, but also a critical developmental period. If children are not given enough natural movement and play experiences, they start their academic careers with a disadvantage. They are more likely to be clumsy, have difficulty paying attention, trouble controlling their emotions, utilize poor problem-solving methods, and demonstrate difficulties with social interactions. We are consistently seeing sensory, motor, and cognitive issues pop up more and more in later childhood, partly because of inadequate opportunities to move and play at an early age.”

My friend who teaches children with learning disabilities told me that children who are seven or eight years old who have never gone to school but have jumped, ran, hiked, and played a lot catch up to their peers in school within one year!

This is another reason to be keepers at home and to allow your children to play and move. I love seeing and hearing all of the children playing outside these days due to the pandemic and them being home full time. They should not watch much television or play with any type of screens often. I would encourage you to limit it to one hour a day and the rest of the day should be spent playing and in creative play. Chores should become more a part of their lives as they grow older to make sure they grow up to be responsible, hard workers.

Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
Psalm 127:3

11 thoughts on “Children Were Meant to Play

  1. Amen. During the one year that our child was in preschool, they were actually sending three- and four-year-olds home with HOMEWORK assignments. Seriously. And that is now far from uncommon. Pushing academics too fast and too young is a serious problem in this country.

  2. Our compulsion to treat children as miniature adults is another reflection of our selfishness. Raising children, to the modern adult, especially in the western world, is an inconvenience, an imposition upon us that gets in the way of our own self-centered desires. We don’t want to spend the time it takes to properly raise them, which includes letting them be children in their formative years. Thus we rush them into premature adulthood, depriving them of that which is essential to healthy development. As pointed out in the OP, this in turn causes even more problems that impose even greater burdens than if we had just taken the time to let them be children as God intended them to be. Working contrary to God’s plan never ends well for anyone.

  3. Hhmm, typing alot at 5 or 6…i wonder if little Scotty will end up with arthritis in his wrists some 40 years down the road.

  4. I was diagnosed at the age of 4 with arthritis in my knees. A lot of times this stuff is just passed down. I have learned to deal with it.

  5. Yes! Childhood is meant to be fun and carefree. That is what my childhood was like. I went to a Christian preschool, but it was only for half a day. We read stories, colored, did worksheets, and played. My mom (a SAHM) picked me up at noon, and I ate lunch with my little sisters. Afterwards, we played all afternoon. There was no homework that I remember. I had chores, but when I was four, they only consisted of unloading the dishwasher, picking up my toys, and easy chores like that. As I got older, I helped out more. In the evenings, my mom would read to me every night. She would tell me stories about her childhood as well. My dad would read to me sometimes, especially as I got older. My parents prayed with me every night for years. My childhood was not perfect, but I had parents who stayed married (and faithful), a dad who worked hard for us, and a mom who was home with us. I was and am so blessed! Unfortunately, I don’t think most my age (early twenties) had these blessings. Even in a Christian school, a lot of the kids came from broken homes. I wish every child could be as blessed as I was.

  6. Since I’m probably one of the youngest people on here (I’m 18 and graduating high school this year), I’d like to make a few comments on this. It’s scary just how much homework young kids are getting! I tutor elementary school kids, who are in grades 2 to grade 7 in my country of Canada, and I’m really surprised at how much the workload has increased. It’s true that kids in kindergarten are even getting worksheets and now kids in grades four are getting huge science fair projects! The typical tutoring session I volunteer at is an hour long, meaning that they expect kids in elementary to have enough work to last them for that long or to do extra work. This doesn’t mean the older grade sixes and sevens only. This even means the grade twos and threes. I’ve led a STEM club at my local elementary school this year and the kids were quite fidgety when I taught them the typical way of lecturing for even twenty minutes about a science concept, but nobody should be surprised about that!

    I personally went to a public school in kindergarten and grade 7, so that ranged from 13 to 5 years ago. I actually didn’t get much homework then. Maybe an hour in grade 7 at most, and literally none in kindergarten except for 15 minutes of reading. But the years I went to a private Christian school were the opposite. I got hours of homework or recommended practice to do. I was doing research projects in grade three! I didn’t have the attention span to do it and got poor marks. My parents didn’t make me do much of the homework thankfully and instead made me explore my own interests. I loved history especially ancient civilizations! I remember reading relatively advanced books on my own about such topics and pretending to be an archaeologist or reenacting events like mummification in games with my sister. ? It’s a wonder how much kids learn when they are not forced to! Now I’m set to graduate with all A’s and study science in university on a full ride scholarship. Meanwhile the kids with so many extracurriculars and even extra tutoring: some got into university but many did not, and only two from the relatively big school I attend part-time also have full ride scholarships.

    This is why I support homeschooling younger kids and letting older students take online classes by themselves. They learn what they like and often even quicker than at normal school! If you want to see a nearly perfect example of homeschooling, check out Taina Licciardo-toivola channel on YouTube. She has 10 kids from 2 to 20, and has homeschooled them all while working from home as a blogger and YouTuber pulling in a significant income even. Her kids finished high school by age 13 or so, then go to trade school and know how to play multiple instruments. However, she homeschools her kids as young as 3 and they know how to read a bit. Kids as young as they can learn some academics. I technically learned academics on my own from a young age by watching national geographic and reading non fiction books or historical fiction. The thing is that both her kids and I had plenty of time to play and free time! So if your child is quite bright and shows an interest in academics early, go ahead and let them learn. But let them have a loose schedule and plenty of free time. I can guarantee you that they will learn!

  7. The two responses I get from people I talk to on why 4K is good for youngsters are: disadvantaged kids can get a head start in the education process because by the time they get to first grade they are so far behind the others they get into the never ending cycle of depression and falling further behind. Second big answer is look at how the U.S. of A. is so far behind other nations in education so we need to get them started earlier and more rigorous than before.

    What has been learned is that the earlier education has no affect. We all learn at our own pace and we can all catch up to each other within a couple years after the age 7. So the early education did not help.

    As for comparing to other countries we tend to not focus on the public schools on the basics. We also tend to hold back the fast learners and do little to help the extremely slow learners. We have a one size fit all mentality. That is why homeschooling, private tutors, charter schools and most private schools do so much better. They work with each student to achieve to their highest level of learning. Not every person is college capable at age 18. And we have devalued education so much that each level of education means nothing. A BS or BA is not enough anymore, a person needs to get a masters degree or even a PhD for some fields just to get a starting job. lol at the pastors at many churches. They have to have a Masters just to ge relooked and in some cases have started getting their doctorate just to maintain their job as a pastor.

  8. Here in New Zealand we have an early childhood program called “Play Centre” – it’s an organisation run by mums where we gather a couple of times a week in the playcentre building (it gets some government funding, so is a purpose-built facility with a huge range of play equipment) and the kids can all play together, with whatever they desire. The mums make play dough, slime, and supervise different playing areas – outside on bikes and scooters, on the playground, with balls, and inside with blocks, carpentry table, dress-ups etc. It is awesome! The entire philosophy is based on “learning through play” which is how children learn best.

    My youngest child is 7 and the public school he attends also embraces this philosophy and 90% of their day is spent “playing” with an educational angle to it. There is very little sitting at desks and learning. But academically, my 7 year is as advanced as his older siblings were at that age, and they had more traditional schooling (they went to Play Centre before starting school at 5) so it is absolutely possible to embrace playing as a learning technique. Open classrooms, lots of opportunities, and passionate teachers make it possible.

  9. ? This is the sad and horrible truth. I’m a huge supporter of education, and I totally agree that it is on a ridiculously high pedestal in today’s society! The whole system is ruined, from preschool to doctorate! You can learn a lot on your own from online resources and libraries and reduce the cost of formal university education layer on by budgeting, working, and scholarships, but if this isn’t possible I’d recommend not getting a post secondary education at all. Loans are terrible unless you are sure you can pay them back quickly. For example, if you are a doctor engineer or lawyer you should be able to get away with a small loan. Otherwise, community college or trade school or the military is the route!

  10. ..and don’t be ashamed to be blessed because truthfully that is exactly how it should be. God’s ways are best and you sound very well rounded and confident. Parents remaining married and a mother in the home and a father working…makes PERFECT sense!!

  11. I agree that kids need to play.

    Kids, today, have so much access to information that they should not have. Kids need to be kids-run, play, play dress up, play dolls. They don’t need to be (God forbid) surfing the internet, texting (unless it’s family), watching the News or being involved in adult drama.

    I think parents need to do more to shield their kids from all the drama in the world and a great thing they can do is encourage their kids to be outside, play games and run around (unless of course, if your child has physical ailments in which this will be harmful for them).

    Kids need to be kids.

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