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Why Learning Should Be Fun

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Why Learning Should Be Fun

If you’ve read this blog a few times, you’ve likely noticed how often the word fun creeps into my writing about learning. Critics who are sold on the order, measurability, and supposed accountability of traditional schooling charge that an educational approach incorporating a good deal of fun is somehow overly protective and fails to prepare children for life’s hard knocks, the tougher lessons from which no one is immune. Certainly they’re right that someday there may be times when life and learning aren’t going to be a picnic for our children. Seeing to it, though, that the hard knocks start sooner rather than later, that learning becomes a chore on someone else’s timetable using someone else’s methods, especially at the tender ages of three, or five, or even eight years old, is counterproductive.

Fun Learning Protects and Prepares

Dad and daughter learning

She can't possibly be learning; she's having fun!

The odds are good that someday our children will be involved in some sort of car accident. Does this mean we should purposefully engage them in an accident today so they’re prepared for a future one? The odds are also good that someday our children will spend time in a hospital. Should we poison their dinners today so they get the hang of lying in a hospital bed?

Of course, we don’t prepare children for possible perils by bringing on all of life’s turmoil sooner than necessary. Rather, we smooth the way through education, giving them the tools they will need to handle whatever life throws their way. We teach them, through the words and actions of daily life, how to properly ride iin a car, who it’s safe to ride with, and, eventually, how to be good drivers themselves. We feed them nutritious meals, encourage good hygiene, and see to it that their lives include a healthy balance of work, exercise, and play. In other words, rather than make sure that they face the challenges at a young age, we make the effort necessary to protect and prepare them just in case bad things do happen one day.

So how does one ready young children for future learning experiences that may get rough? First, we protect the joy they naturally experience from learning something new, just as we protect the good health they enjoy as youngsters. Next, we prepare them with the knowledge and skills they’ll need to “be a good driver” on any learning road they may travel. The best preparation for this is learning how to learn. Maintaining the joy of learning and knowing how to teach themselves whatever they need to know are necessary for future learning.

Incidental Learning “Sticks”

I can’t think of any good reasons learning can’t or shouldn’t be fun for both the young and the young at heart, and I’ve witnessed many good reasons why it should. Blessed to have spent years traveling around the country meeting homeschooling families wherever I go, I’ve seen the same smile and enthusiasm for learning emanating from little faces from Massachusetts to California and all stops in between. The reason, I’m convinced, is because of a lack of focus on “schooling” and all the baggage that accompanies it, and devoting the time freed from this focus to education instead.

Let your first goal, then, be to have fun – let the learning be incidental! Your children will learn from every activity. It’s what they do, and they’re mighty good at it. Join them, for they have a lot to teach you if you’re open to the possibilities – and to fun learning.

See also “10 Quick and Useful Fun Learning Tips.”

AdaptedĀ  from Linda Dobson’s The Ultimate Book of Homeschooling Ideas: 500+ Fun and Creative Learning Activities.

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