By Joe Jarvis
August 22, 2018 - Breaking news: children need to play, according to the Amerikan Academy of Pediatrics.
Seriously, it took the Amerikan Academy of Pediatrics to let us know that?
Better yet, doctors now recommend that parents even get involved in playing with their children, especially before they turn two.
“This may seem old-fashioned, but there are skills to be learned when (children) aren’t told what to do,” said Dr. Michael Yogman, a Harvard Medical School pediatrician who led the drafting of the call to arms. Whether it’s rough-and-tumble physical play, outdoor play, or social or pretend play, (children) derive important lessons from the chance to make things up as they go, he said.
It is great that they are getting this right, but it really shouldn’t take an Academy of doctors to know this. It should be pretty intuitive. (Children) automatically run around, play, and make up games when left alone. So I suppose the only surprising part to some people should be that sometimes you should leave your (child) alone.
In The Future of the Mind, Michio Kaku says that the main function of the brain is running simulations of possible outcomes. That is what makes humans intelligent. We have the ability to forecast what might happen if we take certain actions.
Thus it only makes sense that play is integral for learning and exercising this mental process.
Some (children) play “house” and act out what they think it means to be a family, a mother, and a father. Other (children) wrestle and learn the consequences of slamming their heads into the wall versus the couch versus the window.
The recommendation from the AAP hardly scratches the surface of just how important it is for (children) to play.
Indeed, new research demonstrates why playing with blocks might have been time better spent, Yogman said. The trial assessed the effectiveness of an early mathematics intervention aimed at preschoolers. The results showed almost no gains in math achievement.
I remember typing classes starting in fifth grade. The typing lessons escalated in sixth grade. You know when I finally became proficient in typing? In seventh grade when I needed to type in order to communicate with my friends on AOL Instant Messenger.
I didn’t read much until I found a book that I enjoyed reading, Harry Potter.
It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I found the incentive to learn how many grams are in an ounce.
These are just small examples, but the point is that people learn things when they have an incentive to learn them.
Do you really think a (child) is going to neglect to learn how to do math when it comes time to make sure he and his siblings all got the same number of gifts on Christmas, or the same portion of pizza?
It is just a matter of allowing (children) to learn what they want to learn. If children reclaimed all the hours wasted in school, they would have plenty of time to learn the true necessities of life; especially when there is an incentive to learn - something pressing they want to do or achieve.
Learning the same skill takes a fraction of the time when it is not a purely theoretical lesson. Learning math on paper is not efficient; it doesn’t apply to the real world, however hard educators try to make the problems seem real.
But when those same “failures” go to the gym, you can bet they know the proper ratio of carbs to protein. I bet they know how many calories they need, and how to calculate their body mass index and body fat percentage.
It is great to hear the Academy of Pediatrics coming out with the right idea, but they need to take it leaps and bounds further. It isn’t enough to say schools should keep 15 minutes of recess.
I’d rather them say, let that 14-year-old work on his dirt bike all day if that’s what he likes doing. Let the 9-year-old bookworm read. Let the (children) build tree forts, shoot water guns, and cook dinner.
Seriously, forget school.
By Joe Jarvis