Teaching creatively with toys, games, and puzzles

Play time is a great time for kids to develop and exercise creativity, and to connect as a family. Sometimes it is difficult for homeschool parents to let kids just play without trying to make sure that every activity has some kind of purposeful learning component. Many games and puzzles promise to raise a child's IQ by stimulating specific areas of the brain, and there are even toys for infants that are supposed to improve brain function with specific patterns, colors, and sounds. We want to feel as though we have redeemed play time by making it deliberately educational.

We should not underestimate the value of sitting around the table playing Uno or Apples to Apples, or letting kids dump all their Legos and K'Nex onto the floor and assemble weird machines and weirder creatures. Toys, games, and puzzles by themselves provide ample brain stimulation, increase vocabulary, and when parents and siblings play together, it strengthens the family bond. You spend time together talking and laughing, and you get to know each other better by allowing for spontaneity and unpremeditated interaction.

Playing Apples to Apples

There is no reason to feel guilty about taking time to play. As a matter of fact, families need to make more time to play together. Keep games and puzzles handy on a shelf near the dining room table to create an easy transition into game time while everyone is still gathered together. When the kids are getting out their favorite toys, spend a few moments re-entering the world of imagination that you visited when you were a child. If you have some outside space, make it as kid-friendly as possible so they can exercise their bodies and minds, and join them for a game of freeze tag or hide-and-seek.

You may find that the person who learns the most is YOU.