Is Play-Based Learning a Luxury?
In today's world it's well understood that kids learn better when they are having fun doing it. Technology, a wide range of colorful books, craft activities, science experiments, robotics and such help our kids have a more hands-on, practical, application-based learning experience. But what I'm realizing along the way is that all of it comes with a price. A literal price tag.
When I trained as an occupational therapist, I trained in community-based rehabilitation. We learnt to make aids and toys and therapy materials out of things that were low-cost and available in the community. We were challenged to provide high-quality therapy at a low cost. I've done a little bit of that, and a lot more of other types of education where I've tried to make it work when we had very little resources or finances, but at the end of the day, I've realized- without financial resources, it's very hard to bring play-based learning to kids. Even if you manage to create low-cost resources, this type of learning requires a high student-teacher ratio that adds cost to education.
I'm not saying it's impossible. I know a of homeschooling moms and innovative schools who bring a really high standard of education to their kids at a low cost. As part of Project Kalpana, my team and I use a range of hands-on activities as we teach literacy. But what I am asking us to consider is this- great education, needs investment.
If we want to raise a generation of kids who are leaders in technology, communication, innovation and science- we have to be willing to put our money there. If you want your child to be challenged and excited to learn- buy them colorful books, science experiment kits, and give them plenty of art supplies. For creativity and innovation to thrive, children need materials to work with.
So invest in education- of your own kids if you have any. Make it a priority. It's more important than an expensive outfit or a fancy meal out. Also, let's invest in the education of the underprivileged. So many kids are missing out on education right now because they don't have a smartphone or a tablet. So many kids don't have art supplies or extra notebooks if they want to do something creative. When your kids are done with their books and toys- pass them on to someone who can't afford them. Let's recognize that play-based learning is a luxury in our country, and those of us who have that privilege can make an effort to share it a little more.