A Magical Education: Part I by Susan Haid, Author-Producer, Lily’s Truth

by Susan Haid

As the pressure on public school teachers increases to raise student test scores, and the boom lowers on our kids to perform on standardized testing, as funds drain away and classroom sizes swell, what is the educational experience becoming? More importantly, how much of this knowledge is being retained by our kids? I believe current statistics report that after three years, students retain approximately 20-30 percent of the knowledge imparted in the classroom.

Humph.

As importantly, a question to be asked is this, are our children enjoying school? Or has it become simply ‘nose to the grindstone’ for everyone? I have asked myself this question many times over as I have packed my kids off to school.

Kids, quite naturally, learn through pretend play, imaginative play and physical activity. So why are we asking them to sit at a desk for hours on end, pushing a pencil, with little application of their creative abilities? This just seems counterintuitive to me.

As a personal experiment, this summer I have spent many hours educating my kids in unconventional ways. By the way, I have three children who are ages 5, 9 and 12 years old. We have engaged in theatre games, short plays, art-based mathematics projects, broadway show tunes, monologues, pantomime and story-telling among other things. My goal has been to enhance literacy skills, build complex math concepts and facilitate the emergence of the unique giftedness within my kids.

We have converted my living room and dining room into a playhouse replete with stage curtains and spotlights. We have ‘played’ for hours on end. To my surprise and delight, my kids have begged for more. Most of all, I have had the deeply touching experience of watching my children learn in a magical and playful way that has opened their hearts. My kids are becoming far more expressive, creative, communicative and confident.

Wow.

These are important life skills to cultivate in every child. With a little face paint and some props from our local thrift store, we have made magic in our living room. Funny thing is, my kids remember every detail of what they have learned because they were involved on all levels in their learning experience. Even better, they have had a blast. Best of all, so have I.

The arts are for everyone, not just elite actors or creative types. My boys are extremely athletic, but they have loved every minute of this “school”.  Methinks it’s time to revamp education. Learning can and should be a joyful, memorable experience. Yes, yes, I know that funding of schools depends on test scores. But frankly, I refuse to pressure my kids. I will not have their natural creativity, self-esteem and self-expression thwarted….you see, kids DO define themselves by test scores. This is the greatest tragedy of all.

My kids are learning about who they really are. They are finding tremendous joy in learning, even though most of the time, they are not even aware that they are learning. For them, they’re just having fun.

So, I’ll keep you posted on the growth I witness in my own kids as we continue to play in our home theatre, so-to-speak. We’ll be inviting friends and neighbors to join us soon as everyone wants to get in on the fun.

My kids, in a very short period of time, have bloomed into life. I have found them singing in the shower, trying on different personalities, and experimenting with comedy and improvisation.  So where is all this leading?

Well, creativity is something everyone has and it applies to every endeavor in life. As the world falls apart around us, this just may be the most valuable and important attribute my kids leave home with in the years to come. At the very least, we have made memories to last a lifetime.

For more information and tools for empowering yourself and your kids, visit www.lilystruth.com.

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