As the summer winds down, I’ve seen comments from parents of children with developmental delays, commenting with surprise at the gains their children have made during this extended period that they haven’t had therapies!
It’s kids with recognized delays that we assume most need structured learning and whose lives are often filled with nonstop therapies, and most people assume educational theories that are applied to neurotypical kids don’t apply to them. But just like any other child (or even more, because kids with disabilities are continuously structured and have a constant focus on what they can’t do), they need space to process and do things that are enjoyable for them, without a focus on performance.
Does that seem counterintuitive?
It’s like I’ve been saying for years, kids learn best from play – direct instruction is the least effective modality!
Fortunately we’re now arriving at a beautiful place and time in which parental intuition and research studies concur – kids do best with lots of play, interest directed activities and unscheduled time to process their learning. Not only that, evidence is showing something very interesting and even disturbing – the push for early academics is actually damaging in the areas of social and emotional development.
Here’s a great article I’ve been meaning to share with you for a while. Take a look and see what you think.
The results of the studies quoted may surprise parents who are convinced that intensive direct instruction will catapult their child to success. I believe that it’s when we dismiss the value of play, when we discount games and fun as having no positive value that we do ourselves and our children a grave disservice.
Childhood only comes once and what our kids need more than anything is for the time to be filled with play, activities and love. This is what sets a solid foundation for academic success. When you’re ready to address academics at a later age, they’ll pick up the skills they would have spent years in school reviewing in a much shorter time than you think possible.
We’re burning our kids out by pushing them so hard, from such a young age. In the highly stimulating and competitive world our children are growing up into, a solid emotional foundation is more critical than ever. We don’t know what exact skills they will need, but jaded and bored kids growing into jaded and bored adults aren’t primed for success in any area of life.