I Didn’t Learn This Way in School; The Extinction of Play in Early Education

extinction children_playing_school

What is happening with our education system? Why is there such an emphasis on academics and push to make kids learn in a specific way? Where is all the free play and exploration?

I don’t remember this as a child. For me, school was an exciting place that had a good balance of academics, recess and learning through hands on activities. I developed my communication and social skills, self-confidence, problem solving abilities and felt encouraged by my teachers and peers to push myself.

I certainly wasn’t reading site words, writing sentences and learning math with counters in kindergarten. I wasn’t required to hold a pencil for the majority of my day, to perfect my handwriting skills and to learn in this cookie cutter way.

In fact, I didn’t feel the academic pressure until I entered high school.

My favorite memories in early education were based around play and I feel like my child, along with the others are getting the short end of the stick.

As a Certified Child Life Specialist, I understand child development and know how important play is for kids. It is the way they learn about their world, discover who they are and process their experiences. It comes natural and doesn’t have to be taught. Why would we take away one of the key elements in the way children learn?

What are your thoughts about these changes in education?

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The Battle with Homework Begins…


It has officially been a whole week of kindergarten, which means that homework was about to start soon.

Gavin has never been one to want to sit down at home and do worksheets, although we tried our best throughout the summer.

When he finished his after school break, it was time to get to business.

The frustration began. Tears, whining, “I can’t do it”, trying to leave the table, I got it all.

We talked a bit and I just asked,  “Why don’t you want to do homework?”

Gavin’s response, “I do work at school and I play at home.”

It made me really sad to hear this. He is already understanding the reality of our education system. He knows what is expected of him at school, work, not play.

Did I mention that he is in kindergarten and he is only 5 years old?

This is supposed to be a time of fun, excitement and creativity. A stepping stone into grade school, filled with laughter, hands on experiments and play!

I’m disappointed. I’m very disappointed.

Let me just add that I don’t blame the teachers. I know their hands are tied. They try to make it a fun and exciting environment, but they are forced to follow the curriculum. Gavin’s school is also not full day, which means that there is less time to cover the material. This causes the teachers to have more pressure to rush the curriculum and obviously no extra time to play or socialize. It stinks.

Anyone else feel this frustration?

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What really Happened on the First Day of Kindergarten


What really happened on the first day of kindergarten


The first day of kindergarten has arrived. Most would think that this day is filled with excitement from their eager, confident, social five-year old, but instead it was filled with sadness and anxiety.

My son was his typical self this morning, but as soon as I said, “It’s time to get ready for your first day of school” his attitude changed.

Nothing seemed to go right for him. He didn’t like the button down shirt, his shorts were too big and one sock was tighter than the other.

His brother seemed to be in his way and the fighting began.

My husband started to question, “What is wrong with him?” and I reminded him of how Gavin was on his last day of Pre-K.

It was a flashback to the sad, anxious five-year old that understood that everything was about to change. His friends would be heading off to different schools and he would be alone in kindergarten.

He masked those vulnerable feelings with anger and bitterness, fighting me on everything.

Well, the same thing happened this morning.

I took a deep breath and began to normalize it all for him.

“It’s okay to feel nervous and scared.”

“If you miss us, remember the story of Chester the Raccoon. We are always with you.”

My instincts were right. The flood of tears came and he tried to deny these real emotions, by shaking his head and swatting at me.

It’s hard for kids to accept these raw, vulnerable feelings when they are always praised as to how confident they are.

Within a few minutes, he began to change.

When he saw his neighborhood friends walking to school, the silly little boy threw on his back pack and stood on the corner waiting for them to acknowledge this very special day for him.

We took the traditional first day of school photos and headed down the street to his new school.



When he saw a familiar face from his baseball team, the bright-eyed, eager, confident, social butterfly began to come out.



Then the real emotions began to settle in with his parents. I looked over and saw my husband holding back tears. We were sad that our little man was growing up so quickly.




We will continue our journey of parenthood into the transition of a school-aged child. I’m sure we aren’t the only family going through the waves of emotions.

Who else can relate?

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