Learning is Everywhere!

Dr. Carla LeHouillier
Wishing Star Associate

This past week, while on holiday, I was reminded yet again that learning happens everywhere. I was visiting my in-laws and spending some much needed quality time with my young nieces. We were all sitting around the table for breakfast, and my niece, who is just about to turn 9, was fully engaged in a make-believe game of restaurant. She had written up a menu of our breakfast items, and was going around the table taking our orders and taking the role of “waitress”. We were laughing and joking about the “fanciness” of the restaurant ($5 for one slice of toast!) and she was having a blast immersing herself in this fantasy play. In that moment, I was struck by how much learning was occurring without anyone even trying. Taking our orders helped to practice spelling and writing skills, deciding how much to charge for each item required thinking and reasoning from her previous experiences, and in tallying the total bill, she was using her addition and multiplication skills (3 pieces of bacon for $5 each equals $15 total). From my niece’s perspective, she was merely playing pretend and enjoying the company of her dad, aunt and uncle and her grandparents on a sunny Sunday morning. But, with my school psychologist hat on (which stays in the back of my mind even on vacation!), I remembered that children are constantly learning and growing, even when seemingly just playing and having fun.

These days, imaginative and make-believe play often is neglected in favour of worksheets and structured activities at school, and videogames and television at home. While there may be a time for these other activities, videogames and TV programs usually do not provide the same vehicle for learning as make-believe play. And they certainly do not encourage togetherness and spending time as a family, which is often hard to squeeze in with our busy daily schedules. Worksheets are not generally nearly as engaging as allowing students to connect and learn during imaginative play. Parents and teachers, find time to encourage your young children and students to play pretend with activities like “restaurant” or “store” and join in the fun. Sometimes it can be hard for adults to remember what it was like to have a vivid imagination – so put your thinking caps on and let your inner child run wild!

This blog posting is not a form of psychological counselling, advice, therapy, or assessment and should not be used as such by any individual. This blog posting is provided only as an article intended to encourage thought and discourse. For specific psychology related services, please contact an appropriate healthcare provider.