The Importance of Play in Learning

May 09, 2013

Adorable rag doll made by a child spontaneously= play at it's best

“It is paradoxical that many educators and parents still differentiate between a time for learning and a time for play without seeing the vital connection between them.” -Leo F. Buscaglia

I think that play and being in nature is so important in travel or any life. One of the advantages of worldschooling on our RTW trip is that we have LOTS of time for play.

Out of the 65 videos we have on our Soultravelers3 Youtube Channel  ( with close to 4 million views!), this is one of Mozart's favorites.( Please join us there by the way, if you haven't already).

I think it shows one of the keys to slow travel and learning while traveling- it is crucial to take time to play because family travel is often about doing ordinary things in extraordinary places.

Before and after we toured lovely Ljublijana, Slovenia, we had to allow for time to play and now so happy we captured this fun moment. I am sure "fancy town" was inspired by the architecture we were seeing.

“Play is our brain’s favorite way of learning.” -Diane Ackerman

She is always creating something, like the rag doll above or these windows made out of a glue system she made up and some tooth picks for a log house she was making. She hums or sings away as she makes things and we are happy to live in our real food and unplugged world a lot.

Yes, she is learning chemistry, Mandarin, Geometry, Physics, reading classics, composing music and more, but play is still an important part of learning. Now that she is not in Chinese school, we have time for a tutor, fun classes AND lots of play in our homeschooling life.

“We are never more fully alive, more completely ourselves, or more deeply engrossed in anything than when we are playing.” -Charles Schaefer

the joy of creation and making things

“Almost all creativity involves purposeful play.” –  Abraham Maslow

Best toys for travel? Maybe the ones they make on their own! Free time, nature, art and imaginative play are very important parts of childhood that we hold sacred and encourage, as you can see in Croatia, Barcelona, Portugal, Andalusia and every place we've been.

I love it that she keeps expanding on her worlds no matter where we are. I see her growing skills that will help her in her writing, creativity, problem solving etc. and I sometimes wonder if she will be an architect, civil engineer or urban planner. Her cities are detailed, creative and keeps exploding around her room as she is great at making something out of nothing.

never too old to play and create

“The true object of all human life is play.” -G. K. Chesterton

My sister gave her some knitting needles before we left California and now she is a bit obsessed with knitting. She made herself some wrist bands for her volley ball class and all kinds of fashion outfits. Sewing clothes, knitting, making belts and accessories and making all kinds of  things in this way is a passion at the moment. I don't know how to knit, so this is all self taught.

knitting box filled with newly made creations= homeschool fun

She has always known how to entertain herself, but we are a playful family, so do things together as well. She loves going down to the pool together as the whole family.

Last Sunday we were in the pool for almost 3 hours and the last one was just the two of us. I love it that  she is still a child, but blossoming into a women now at 12, so I am cherishing every moment of these sweet pleasures. The pattern in Malaysia is if you go at dinner time, you will see lots of kids to play with, but if we go earlier, we have the whole pool to ourselves.


As we hugged and waltzed around the pool surrounded by palm trees and tropical flowers, she told me the detailed plots of her current favorite books and why she loved them. Then she shared a magical, private,  made-up game with me that involved a blue tile she had found in the pool. After she skips it across the pool, one puts their head under the water and listens for an enchanting tingle as it gracefully hits the bottom of the pool.

Sacred family times and sacred family travel moments come in many forms. I don't want to forget ANY of them.

“Play is the only way the highest intelligence of humankind can unfold.” -Joseph Chilton Pearce

When was the last time you had fun playing? If it's been too long, plan some today!

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