There was a time when I had a clear distinction in my mind between “Educational” and “Mindless” activities. I even had a mental scale, or rating system that I used to determined which activities would be more or less educational.
When my children would chose an educational activity (Studying the globe for example) I would be filled with joy and satisfaction, knowing that they would soon be silencing my critics with their display of awesome knowledge. When they chose a less educational activity (watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse for example) I would be filled with anxiety, fear, and disappointment.
One place where this mental dichotomy would manifest itself is our local library. We would walk into the children’s department, and the first thing my children would see: The computers. “Why?” I would think, “Why can’t they look at books? That is what we are here for, maybe they would actually LEARN something! Must they spend the entire trip on the computer EVERY time we come here?”
On one of these trips my son (aged 5 at the time) stumbled upon a chess game on the library computer. He fell in love. For the next 3 weeks everything was chess. He watched instructional videos to learn the names of the pieces and how they move, he played chess on the kindle and on the computer at home, and EVERY time we went to the library. He was chess obsessed, and he was getting pretty good at it.
Had I insisted that he stay off of the Library computer, and go pick out books, he never would have had the joy of finding something that he loved. By steering our kids toward activities we believe to be more “educational” we may just be robbing them of an opportunity to find something they are passionate about.
At any rate, our beliefs about what is “educational” are made up prejudices, and we should do everything in our power to make sure our children participate in any activity they desire, without regard to our biased opinion.
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