Having fun with your kids? Just relax and enjoy it; it doesn’t need to be more than just fun.
One of the mainstays of the homeschooling industry is inspirational books and magazine articles describing enjoyable things to do with your kids that are also educational. This notion that we have to make learning fun by dressing it up as games or other enjoyable activities is nonsense…and, more often than not, our kids know that. And that knowledge lessens both the enjoyment and the learning.
Learning is not difficult, boring, or unpleasant. What happens in school is often difficult, boring, and unpleasant, but that’s forced memorization/regurgitation, not real learning. Real learning is either not even noticed because it’s a side effect of being deeply engaged in an activity or it’s jumping-up-and-down joyful discovery.
Fun is a valid outcome on its own, and there is no need to feel guilty about playing with no hidden agenda. In fact, telling kids that something will be enjoyable when we really want to sneak in some “serious” education is every bit as manipulative as what goes on in school.
When my kids were young and learning from life, we loved playing board games, we traveled a lot, and we often went on hikes and visits to the science museum, the zoo, and art galleries (among many other activities). Heidi and Melanie undoubtedly learned some science, math, spelling, and other academic “subjects” while engaging in those activities (as did their father and I). But that wasn’t the purpose. The purpose was to enjoy life – to have fun…laughing, exploring, and enjoying each others’ company.
While we were living life and enjoying ourselves, we also got an education. But the focus was on having fun just for the fun of it. So let’s relax and let fun family activities be fun without staging them for a purpose or dissecting the learning that may have happened as a result.
You can read articles about having fun, playing with kids, and giving them the freedom to play on their own on the Child’s Play Magazine website, one of the digital publications that I edit.