Creative Juice: The Greatest Research Tool Your Kids Have

June 15, 2015

There is a place…a place not too far away from here…

…where the idyllic days of summer vacation…

…do not exist.

Yes, a school district in my town is toying with year-round school. Maybe some parents are cheering, but I’m hoping this idea stays right where it is, and doesn’t spread. I’m hoping those kids don’t do any better on their state-mandated tests.

It’s not just because I’m a teacher and I need two months of “vacation” (it used to be three). My time off is spent working…on the next school year. The space of summer gives me the mental margin to think creatively about the coming year. I’m a better teacher because I get time off from teaching.

Your kids need it too. I know there is a lot of talk about how much academic progress is “lost” because of vacation. But here is the thing: we have more and more people in charge of our kids’ education who don’t know a whole lot about kids. They know some philosophy of education. They are obsessed with data points. And they are working tirelessly to make school more regimented, more micromanaged, more rigorous.

In the midst of this, your kids are losing one of the greatest learning tools they have…

Play. 

Recess is not an “extra.” P.E. isn’t to try to make our kids not so fat. Kids have an intellectual need to play. That’s what summer is all about.

And I’m not talking about the little playdates you arrange for them. I’m talking about wandering around. I’m talking about picking up sticks, running through puddles, getting dirty, experimenting, taking risks, real play. 

It is through play that children truly learn about the world around them. They read about sticks in school, but through play, they experience sticks, and dirt and bugs. The world becomes their laboratory. Through play, they develop the skills to not be antisocial, lonely adults. Through play, your kids learn to stop hanging onto your leg and go be independent problem solvers.

Albert Einstein even said that play was the “highest form of research.”

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Parents, play time is under attack, I believe. The powers that be are contemplating taking away two months of free “research” each year. Free range parents are having their children taken away for letting their kids do what kids do best.

Let your kids learn as much as they can, before school makes them come back and learn the answers to a test.

I know what I’ll be doing.

2 responses to Creative Juice: The Greatest Research Tool Your Kids Have

  1. Matt, I would LOVE this to be true. That if children had free time, they would use it running, playing, laughing, etc. Sadly, I haven’t seen children playing outside (sticks optional) in ages. Usually the only play thing in their hands is the latest electronic device.

  2. Yes, yes, yes!!! Our public school district has had some schools on year-round schedules and they are thinking of ending it. “But district administrators say it has had no impact on improving student achievement….” http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/education/tulsa-public-schools-wants-to-get-rid-of-year-round/article_904dac14-e9b6-5d89-bc76-857eb79a2c7f.html