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Book Review of “Playful Learning: Develop Your Child’s Sense of Joy and Wonder” by Mariah Bruehl

Playful learning as a concept lies somewhere between free play and guided play. When children are engaged in an activity they enjoy, they assimilate learnings faster, better and for the longer run. Scientifically, learning through activities which are relevant and meaningful has been known to develop social, emotional, cognitive and physical development.

But how exactly does one facilitate playful learning? Traditional education systems, while accepting the importance of playful learning to an extent, may not be equipped to deliver the required environment. It takes thought, preparation, and insight on the part of teachers to skillfully guide children’s play experiences. One also wonders if trained professional teachers are not able to successfully employ playful approaches to learning, what chance does a first-time untrained parent have?

Enter Mariah Bruehl, a passionate educator with over a decade of experience in education and curriculum development.

Through her book, “Playful Learning”, Bruehl has created a wonderful resource which parents can use to fill the gaps left by formal education and become more proactive in their children’s learning. She has put together a resource of more than 50 activities aimed at empowering children to use their individual strengths and engage in experiences that they are interested in. The book is divided into 7 segments:

1. Nurturing Young Authors
2. The Joy of Reading
3. Mathematicians at Work
4. Scientific Investigations
5. Exploration of Art and Artists
6. Glowing Globally
7. Raising the Citizen of Tomorrow

There are three stages of activities for each subject catering to children aged between 4 to 8-year-olds. Each subject is explained from the point of view of how a child’s learning develops so that the parent can understand how exactly to help in the learning process. The author has provided ample references to further enhance the learning process. The book also talks about how to build a family culture that celebrates learning and how to create a playful learning space and display your child’s work.

The activities or projects are detailed yet simple, and may not appear to be ground-breaking at first. But they are meant to be used organically as and when your child shows an interest in a particular direction. The idea behind the book, in the author’s own words, is to meld a child’s sense of joy and wonder with thoughtfully planned learning experiences. You’re sure to find enough and more ways to channel your child’s exploratory skills.

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