Sunday, 15 April 2012

Just playing

Well, another lovely day today - chance to catch up with some friends from church this morning, and this afternoon: lunch and playtime with some family members, who came bearing gifts including a birthday present of a Wii game (Mario Party 9) for DS1 (cue much excitement from all)
Of course, the subject of Home Education came up in conversation... incidentally, we are really blessed with our family - we've had not one negative comment from anyone!  The odd "wow, you're brave" maybe, and quite a few questions, but all supportive & interested.
Anyway, after lunch the boys were looking forward to trying out the new Wii game, and our relatives were keen to see them enjoying it, so on it went, and the fun started.  Seeing all three boys (not to mention Daddy) joining in enthusiastically, the light-hearted teasing began: "so what lesson will this be then?"  It got me thinking.  I'm not one of those who despise all computer games; I think there is something to be said for the accompanying skills: hand-eye co-ordination; problem-solving; rapid-response training; team-building (not to be sniffed at in a family of more than one child).  However, I don't want to become flippant (even though I may have been heard to say things like "chocolate is made of beans so must be one of my five-a-day").  It is tempting to invent 'learning possibilities' to justify play-time (and some of my earlier posts may have sounded that way), but the fact is, I don't need to.  It's OK just to play - and I am happy for the boys to play on the Wii simply because they like it.  Yes, they do acquire certain skills - the main one being that they get really good at whatever game it is and usually thrash Mummy at it... but there are drawbacks too.  Mainly, if they spend too long they can become REALLY anti-social (ask them to switch off and they can turn into whining, angry, out-of-control monsters).  I've no idea why - I'm sure cleverer people than I will have done studies into it (and maybe I would do well to read some such studies) - all I know is that in our house, screen time is limited (whether that be TV or Wii, nintendo dsi, or PC games), and we try to ensure that playtime includes more physical stuff too - preferably outdoors, as long as the weather's not too bad.
So basically my thought for today is that playtime can just be playtime.  There will be benefits, and challenges, and learning opportunities, but I don't have to do a teacher's assessment every time they play, in order to find out the learning outcomes.  It is OK just to play - and the more varieties of playtime, the better :)

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