Children and adults can learn lessons through play

Teaching Your Child

Teaching Your Child


"So, what do you do while Tristan is having his violin lesson?" my daughter asked. I could tell her mental wheels were turning.

"I work. Since Mommy's moving from elementary school to high school this year, there are a lot of lessons to study and plan. I've been trying to prepare for my new job."

She pursed her lips, shook her head and aimed her pointer finger at me.

"Not today," she said. "You've worked enough on those lesson plans this summer. Today you will not work. Today you will play."

I wanted to ask if that was an order, but I decided to humor her. It was about a week before I had to be in the classroom, so I figured it wouldn't hurt to take a break. After all, I spent a good amount of time preparing this summer.


I'm excited about teaching high school English this year. It's a privilege to work with young people of any age.

Or, for the sake of this story, perhaps I should say it's a privilege to play with young people of any age.

My daughter certainly would approve.

Before she made any plans for the violin lesson, though, I laid down some ground rules. We could not talk because we would be in the teacher's living room while the lesson was taking place.

She listened to my explanation and thought about it for a minute.

Then she smiled. "I will bring along a notebook and we will play tic-tac-toe and hangman."

"We can play tic-tac-toe, but we can't play hangman," I said. "We'd have to say the letters out loud. That would be talking."

She thought about that for a minute.

"We can write them down on the paper," she said, with a victorious grin.

I wasn't going to come up with other reasons why we couldn't play. If my daughter wanted to play with me that much, shouldn't I put my work aside for another time?

She came prepared with a notebook and two pens. I brought my work along, just in case. I didn't open my satchel, though. We were having too much fun.

After beating me in tic-tac-toe a couple of times - one of her friends had taught her a trick that "always" works - she was ready to move on to hangman.

One of her puzzles was "We went to Louisiana on an airplane in July."

As I started to figure out the words, I could tell one letter was missing in Louisiana. I didn't say anything because we were trying to be quiet and because I wanted to see if she noticed. When all the letters were placed, she frowned and pointed to the word Louisiana. I drew another space between the "s" and the first "a." She had forgotten the second "i."

Later I told her not to feel bad about that. It's a common spelling error. Louisiana was spelled without the second "i" on my marriage license. When I asked for a new license, I was told it couldn't be done. That's what I got for marrying someone from out of state.

"But most people know how to spell the 50 states of the union," I said. "Or, if they're not sure, they look it up."

That comment went over well. At least the office worker was willing to squeeze the missing "i" onto the original license.

Another one of my daughter's puzzles was "Burger King is a fast food restaurant."

Once again as the letters were placed I could tell that one was missing. This time it was in the word "restaurant."

She noticed it, too, but she didn't know what letter wasn't there. She forgot the "u." That makes sense. The sound in the middle of the word "restaurant" is the same sound in "car." In one word, the sound is spelled "aur." In another it is spelled "ar."

I tried to make her feel better later by explaining that adults sometimes forget how to spell "restaurant." Then I reminded her about the time we went to a local family diner where a beautiful new sign proclaimed that the "restuarant" was open.

When I gently pointed out the spelling error, the hostess looked up at the sign and asked, "Are you sure? We just had that sign made."

I nodded and suggested that they call the sign company.

My family just shook their heads on the way to the car.

They know mom doesn't like to stop working.

It's a good thing they know how to play.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send e-mail to her at

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