How Many Times May Instructer Give Feedback On Math Ia The Best Summer School of All Is Play

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The Best Summer School of All Is Play

Ways you can boost your child’s academic skills this summer through the art of PLAY.

By now most parents have heard it many times: “children learn by playing.” However, the details of exactly how and what they learn remain vague and underappreciated.

Before you hire a tutor or enroll your child in a learning center this summer, take a moment to fully understand why it might not be necessary. Barring real learning problems, play can provide an alternative and less stressful way to understand basic academic concepts. Not forgetting the fact that summer is a time to love with our children. Playing or just “being” together can build a stronger parent-child connection, which in turn helps our children feel safe, secure, and open to more creativity, exploration, and learning.

Parents instantly and instinctively recognize the value of playing with their babies and toddlers. Babies crave learning from day one. Playing with our babies helps develop their intelligence, emotional health and social skills. Babies who are played with perform better on standard cognitive and perceptual tests. Play increases the baby’s drive to explore and discover. In turn, the child develops curiosity. Babies don’t need to be “taught” to crawl, walk and talk. With the love and support of the parents, the baby naturally strives to learn these things. We, as parents, simply follow their example – their innate desire to “learn”.

However, many parents are less convinced that play remains prevalent as a learning tool as babies grow into toddlers and young children. We begin to impose our own ideas of what our children “should know”. Parents fear that if they continue to rely on their child’s self-motivation to learn, they may be robbing them of crucial knowledge. Knowledge gained from play, especially play that encourages exploration and problem solving, can be far superior to anything we adults can impose.

Below are some details on what academic skills can be enhanced through play and what materials you can have on hand to support them.

Mathematical skills

Most adults know the basics of math, but how many of us really “get” math concepts? One item that can help children gain a deeper understanding of math concepts is wooden unit blocks.

A child reciting their times tables may seem more impressive than a child playing with blocks. It takes a deeper understanding of the block game to appreciate that the child is learning the same idea, but in a more effective and memorable way. The concepts learned from the block game are numerous: counting, matching, ordering, fitting, using fractional parts of a whole, productive thinking and experimentation.

Kids do more than just stack and drop blocks. Perceptions such as up/down, inside/outside, big/small, thick/thin, more than/less than/equal to are all features of how the world works and all are further understood through the game of blogs

Unit blocks are not like Legos. They don’t fit. Children have to work hard to adapt and balance, refine and test.

There are also games and playbooks available that are not only simple and fun, but significantly help develop math skills without the child feeling like they are being “taught.” At the end of this article I have listed a few that I recommend

Reading and basic cognitive skills

Creative thinking precedes the desire to read. Believe it or not, one of the best ways to encourage creative thinking and in turn build a love of reading is through pretend play.

Through imaginative play, play originates from ideas rather than ‘things’. For example, if you ask a two-year-old to pretend to describe “a big elephant standing in the kitchen,” he usually can’t do it. However, as children grow older, they begin to separate meaning from what they see; action comes from ideas rather than what they see clearly. A piece of wood can be a doll, a stick, a horse, etc… This is an important life transition and should be encouraged.

Free play may not seem like much to an adult observer, but it requires a child to act against their immediate impulse and follow the “rules” of the game they are playing. They don’t know that they are limiting themselves in favor of rule-based behavior because the play is fun. The restraint and attention required in school and reading is based on this type of fun and games. Through the rules they make up in pretend play, children begin to discover that following certain rules of a game can be enjoyable. This can help with the later transition to more meaningful, rule-based types of behavior (like school), which are easier to manage.

The leading expert on child development, Lev Vygotsky, remarked, “preschoolers who spend more time in pretend play are advanced in intellectual development, more empathetic, and perceived by their teacher as more socially competent.”

In her book, “Notebooks of the Mind,” author Vera John-Steiner examined the lives and minds of some of the world’s most renowned creative thinkers. He researched philosophers, musicians, scientists and architects such as Tolstoy, Einstein, Mozart and Aaron Copeland. Imaginary play appears repeatedly as an important influence in their lives. John-Steiner states, “The earliest sources from which creative individuals draw are related to children’s play.” Formal education helped add a sharper focus, but it was the game that made the biggest impact.

The poets and writers John-Steiner researched recalled their love of words blossoming not in quiet surroundings but in dramatic play with peers: “feeling more alive in sounds and rhythms amid the noise, the moves and sharing lines with each other.” Often, the way we as adults perceive a scene: (chaotic, waste of time, noisy or disorganized) is very different from how a child perceives and internalizes the same scene.

Fantasy play in early childhood can help older children master school content, cope with a new school environment, and remember and think more clearly. What young children do “talk to themselves” while pretending becomes internalized into “private thought” when they grow up. This contributes to self-awareness and can help guide them in many academic situations. This “inner speech” has been linked to developments such as: planning, reflection, recording and transformation of the norm into new ideas.


Try to accept the child’s creative activities before introducing your own ideas. Children learn better through interactions with more experienced partners than through “instruction.” Activities imposed for adults do not take into account how young children learn. Quietly listening to adults is not how children learn best. Trial and error offers much more.

Some adults don’t like the way their kids play and can tell them how to use a toy properly. Also, it can be difficult to resist intervening when frustration arises for the child. Try, however, to avoid interfering. Efforts to help may divert the child from seeking and ultimately finding the solution that works best for him. Telling them “how” to use a toy can turn off their interest in it. In a research project aimed at promoting play among disadvantaged children, parents were taught how to “play” with their children. The results were most interesting: “Parental play rather than guidance predicts children’s later cognitive and social maturity.”

With “educational” toys they emphasize enjoyment over educational value. Problems arise when adults emphasize what the toy teaches over how the child wants to use it. I remember when my children’s grandmother gave them a globe that says the names and real information about the different countries and continents. My kids loved playing with the special “pen” that made the voice speak. They had little interest in geography. He was determined to show them the “right” way to use it so they could learn about the countries. They quickly lost interest and moved on to something else. Had I left it to them, I imagine they would have eventually acquired more geographic knowledge in their own way and time. Instead, because of my interference, it became something they would prefer to stay away from.

Try to avoid gambling out of a sense of duty. Children recognize and appreciate genuine participation. If getting involved is a real struggle, or if you can’t resist intrusion or frustration, it’s wise to reflect on your own early childhood play experiences. This can help you understand your motivation and conflicts. Then it will be easier to work on learning different approaches that work best for your child.

Discovering your child’s areas of strength and building on them will give their academic and social skills a much bigger boost than worrying about areas of weakness which can only exacerbate any anxiety.

Here are some suggestions, toys, puzzles and games to help boost your child’s academic and creative skills this summer. Enjoy!

Reading and language:

Lateral thinking puzzle

Seeds of illustrative history

Games: Smart Mouth, Apples to Apples, Bananagrams

Simulation game:


Clay wood blocks

“Toobeez” (a great construction toy that doesn’t have to “be anything” when it’s made).

Old clothes for “dressing up”

An old video camera for making “movies”

Old appliances that can be disassembled

Giant plastic balls


Nerf or water guns (if you’re okay with gun play)

Mathematical skills:

Games: set, sequence. Rummikub. Blokus, Mancala

Card games like Spit or War

Puzzle Books Perplexor and Maze Books – Encourage problem-solving skills and finding solutions.

Wooden blocks

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