The fact that your 5 year-old can name all the state capitals, can add and subtract double-digit numbers, and identify nouns and verbs in a sentence might be hindering her ability to get into college when she’s ready. In fact, a 5 year-old who, instead, spends time pretending, playing with toys and peers, and using her imagination and play to solve problems might have a distinct advantage over the more academically advanced little girl by the time they are both applying for college entry.
According to Erika and Nicholas Christakis, both highly educated experts, a play-based curriculum has more value than a skills-based curriculum, especially when the children are ready for college. According to the Christakis, “. . . if you want your child to succeed in college, the play-based curriculum is the way to go.”According to the Christakis, skills-based curricula, known as “drill and kill” programs, are not beneficial to learning because young children can’t learn meaningfully in the social isolation required for these types of monotonous exercises.
So, if a play-based curriculum prepares children for college, what about unschoolers? Many unschoolers embrace play as the basis for all learning. In fact, because learning is part of everything they do, unschoolers are always learning. When our world changes, those with creative thinking skills will be ready to change right along with it. Those that focused on memorizing the capital cities might find it difficult to get along in groups, manage without someone telling them what to do, or make important decisions about their futures. Perhaps the educational system ought to take a note or two from the unschoolers “play book” or at least add more play into the school day. What do you think?