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Monday May 20th 2024

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Books By Linda Dobson ArtofEdCover Books By Linda Dobson learning-coach-approach

The Homeschooling Gift of Time to Play

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Play is your child's spontaneous, joy-filled embrace of life.

Play is your child's spontaneous, joy-filled embrace of life.

Building upon yesterday’s post called “Homeschooling Myth #4 – “You Need Teacher Training, Dearie,” this post helps explain just one of the many benefits you have while educating your child at home, just one of many assets public school attendance can’t in a million years provide to your child.

“The Homeschooling Gift of Time to Play” is but a very small portion of The Art of Education: Reclaiming Your Family, Community and Self, a book I wrote in 1995 which was first published by Home Education Press; subsequently published by Holt Associates. While the writing is almost 15 years old, the words still ring true today. In fact, given the “big picture” of the eventual federal takeover of public schools and their curriculum, I think the thoughts may be even more important today than they were 15 years ago. I do feel obliged to tell you that the American Library Association’s review of this book stated that “Dobson’s sources are a complicated blend,” and I wholeheartedly agree. But if you’ll bear with me, you’ll see that voices from a wide spectrum of society are saying the same thing! And, as always, please feel free to share your thoughts.


Much attention has been paid by researchers and the media to the academic success of family centered learners. However, for home educators, academic success is not all there is. They realize that “men cannot remain content with what is given them by their culture if they are to be fully human.” (From The Closing of the American Mind by Allan Bloom) So what do they provide their children that schools cannot?

Self-knowledge. “…the basis for serious, humane learning.” (Also from Allan Bloom) An understanding of who it is doing the learning.

Interestingly, families don’t necessarily start out with this as a goal, nor is there a specific part in their curriculum or time of day when they study Self-Knowledge 101. Rather, this knowledge is a side effect of the family way of learning. It is an important by-product received because the family possesses a valuable commodity anyone trapped by a school schedule envies – TIME.

Young children use this time pursuing the path to self-knowledge through play. Play is your child’s spontaneous, joy-filled embrace of life. In play, no walls divide the players from each other or pull the outer child away from the true Self.

It is here, in the Kingdom of Infinite Possibility, that your child physically, mentally, and spiritually strengthens her bond with true knowledge. The value of play lies not in relieving boredom or even in its ability to teach. Play is a child’s most important work, providing the opportunity to express all that exists inside. It is at once a way to express – and define – Self. Children learning at home tend naturally to utilize their precious gift of time in play, thus gathering the blocks that create a solid foundation for the learning process.

Her heart and yours are one.

Her heart and yours are one.

Spend five minutes following your young child while she is in active mode. She will find this amusing at first; join in her laughter. She will try to tailor her activity to please you; allow her to lead. She will share with an openness and honesty with which you are unfamiliar; be humble in her presence.

Do not think about the electric bill; it will still be there when you are done. Do not worry about dinner; no one will starve if it is five minutes late.

She has much to teach you. You have much to re-learn. Never will you find a more loving, forgiving, unconditionally accepting guide. She will not fail you, for it is not her intention to find your faults. Rejoice in this sharing. Her heart and yours are one.

The understanding that we all co-exist on one tiny planet with a delicate ecosystem is sweeping the globe. But just as we can harm the planet by tinkering with nature’s plan, we harm children when we tinker with the marvelously ordered, delicate blend of mind, body, and spirit that they are.

A child with time for experimentation and experience grows in Self-knowledge. All aspects of her being – physical, mental, and spiritual – receive attention, watered like a budding rose in a spring rain. It doesn’t rain in specific areas for allotted amounts time, training the child that each area stands alone. Every aspect is part of the whole exquisite landscape, a picture made more beautiful because of natural balance.

Those children who intuit their education isn’t worth a hill of beans feel the absence of balance in their lives. Adding a class for ethnic studies onto the daily schedule doesn’t bring the spiritual aspect of a child into balance with the intellect. Likewise, a forty-five minute weekly discussion of self-esteem and lists of the “10 Things I Like Most About Myself” don’t lead a child to emotional stability. School practices still leave spirituality, emotions, and physical learning hanging out on a limb far removed from other “subjects” of learning. They become only more subjects tacked on to a long list of irrelevant, disconnected, “informatory knowledge.”

“Present systems of education in various countries of the world only give the students informatory knowledge,” writes Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, founder of the Maharishi International University in Iowa. “There is nothing precise in the field of education today which will really develop the inner values of mind, body, and spirit. Therefore, whatever education is received by the people is just on the surface level of information.”

Emptiness exists where education should fulfill our children. The inability of informatory knowledge to satisfy, to quench the thirst for knowledge every child possesses is sad enough. But the continued practice of school-style intellectual development that strips children of their natural desire to learn, and robs them of any sense of integration, or connectedness, is a sin.

In order to gain a better understanding of the fundamental differences between an education leaves your child wondering, consciously or subconsciously, “Is that all there is?” and education that brings balance and purpose to your child’s life, we need a close-up view of both. Let’s take a look at the Education Pyramid.

(And the book goes on to the next chapter called, strangely enough, “The Education Pyramid.” <g>)

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