Here goes the break-up of the life learning curriculum for preschool. First up is the Right To Play, the nursery curriculum.
This suggestion of the right to play might draw sniggers from few adults. They can say that kids play all the time. What else do children do apart from playing? What’s the novelty if you suggest a right to play as a life learning nursery curriculum? Just another unwanted funky piece of advice, far removed from reality. So, we start with the reasoning.
Why The Right To Play
Open spaces for children to play are a myth in India. Public parks are not safe for children’s independent play. Yes, the gated communities do have some playing areas, but minuscule to the number of kids residing. We would like to believe that kids play, but where’s the place for children to play – freely, uninhibited, unconstrained?
Kids are bundled off to preschools. This lasts for 3/4/5 hours. Add up the transport time, to and fro. Add the preparatory and winding down period, meals, screen time, temper tantrums (remember, they are kids), sleep. We would like to believe that kids play, but where’s the time for kids to play – nonstop, leisurely, easygoing?
Parents are busy working off their backsides. Siblings, if any, are too old and occupied with exams/screens to play with a nursery-going kid. There is hardly a neighbourhood around nowadays. Even if there is one, the time to play for the kids may not match as they have various classes/sessions at different times. With whom do the kids play?
Oh yes, they get to play in preschools. Is there any time left to play after parroting the rhymes, undesired motor-sensory writing practices (reversal of LSRW) and sitting idle in circle time? The preschools charge to make the child school-ready by overwhelming the kid much beyond his/her age. They do not charge for a child’s play and true to it, they won’t let the child play.
Spending time with mind-numbing digital gadgets does not count as play. So, when/where/how do the children play? That’s the reason for the right to play as nursery curriculum.
To Play Is To Learn
Adults can make one round of the house in less than 5 minutes. That’s how adults are – to the point and efficient. Children can’t make one round of the house even in an hour. That’s how children are – all over the place and clumsy. Adults can follow instructions if they want to. Children can also follow instructions if they remember to.
Why the above proclamations? Because we, adults, do not acknowledge that adults and children are wired differently. What works for adults does not work for kids. Else, they would not be children in the first place; rather they would be born adults. Structured and formal instruction-led teaching makes sense to adults, not kids.
Does water/mud, plants/insects, utensils/pillows make sense to adults for hours together? Would adults be interested in pretend play, asking incessant questions and running around? A resounding no. Then, why should kids be interested in worksheets and rote memorization? Why should children be paying attention only with ears when they can engross all their sensory organs and mind?
Learning has dissimilar connotations for parents (adults) and children. For children, to play is to learn. For adults, to play is to squander away the learning. To children, to play is to understand the ways of life, people and world. To adults, a child’s play is a needless charade with no apparent benefit other than keeping the kids away from an adult’s cherished screen time.
One of the greatest services that a parent can ever do to the child is to recognize that to play is to learn.
How/What To Play
Adults ask adult questions. If parents do get convinced about the life learning nursery curriculum – right to play, the next question they will ask is what/how should children play to learn the maximum, to be ahead of the pack, to ace the entrance exams? The children who ask questions all the time will not ask what/how to play.
Therein, lies the answer to what/how to play and also, how adults and children differ. To play is to play. To play, kids do not require any paraphernalia/apparatus/apps/add-ons/instructions. These are the frills of the adults’ world. What the children do need to play are the physical space and the mental freedom. That’s it. The rest is learning all along.
Right to education was the need of a certain time and the well-intentioned adults made a mess out of it. Right to play is the need of a current time and the un-intentioned adults are again making a mess out of it. We have to back up our future generations in ways more than one and the first up, most important for their life learning, is the right to play as nursery curriculum.
What are your thoughts on the right to play for kids as a life learning nursery curriculum?
PS: I am a stay-at-home father to six-year-old twin daughters, neither an educationist nor an expert, just growing up together with my children. The above thoughts are an expression of parenting is having an opinion, getting involved and trying to better.