I was talking to someone last week who is a pretty relaxed homeschooler, but considering sending her daughter to school because she doesn't want to deal with the fighting over school work. She thinks that it's not too much to ask that her daughter do a little math and a little reading every day. She knows that my E frequently does math and reading related things, and she said "But E is interested in those things. What if she wasn't? Would you just let her play all day?"
So, I'll answer that here. Play is very, very important. It IS how we learn. My kids do play all day and some of that play looks like running around in the sprinklers and kicking soccer balls and some of it looks like math flash cards and writing thank you notes.
Yes, you read correctly.... math flash cards and thank you notes are FUN for my kids, because no one has ever ruined those things for them.
"But sometimes we have to do things that aren't fun," you say. "Some things in life are HARD WORK and just plain miserable."
That's true, though I believe it is the case much less often than most people think, for two reasons:
1) they don't know how to have fun with learning
2) they think of fun as WOO-HOO screaming, hands in the air, having a blast and happy to be FREE of the horribleness of work or schoool.
Which means they can't understand the kind of fun that my daughter has with flash cards.
She asked me to work on addition flash cards with her today. She told me what numbers she wanted to work on, and it was work, not woo-hoo screaming fun. It was also fun, however, not drudgery. It's fun for her to master a new skill, it's fun for her to stretch her brain. She actually enjoys struggling to grasp a concept and then getting it. L also had fun with them, practicing identifying the numbers.
However, no one finds things fun when they are forced to do them. So do I worry that my kids play all day? Nope, not at all. I also don't worry when these interests wax and wane. They might do these flashcards every day for a week and then not touch anything math related for a month and when they comes back to it, it might not look anything like school work. That's ok. That's how real learning works.