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By Jean Warren

It has been my observation that children learn more when they are having fun. Almost in any play situation, they seem to be able to concentrate more and behave better. Some people would deny this and be positive that more learning is taking place when children are focused upon the teacher and not "playing" at all.

A few years ago, I came across some research that confirmed my observations The research told about studies that were conducted on memory. It sought to find out what types of things we remember and what things we don't. It was found that, on the whole, we tend to remember what we learned in pleasant situations and we tend to forget that which was learned during unpleasant or stressful situations.

We know so little about the mind but it does seem that it operates to protect us from bad experiences and in some extreme cases totally blocking the experience from our conscious minds.

The point here is to learn from this research and understand that information is retained or imprinted on the brain at a much higher rate when the person is relaxed and enjoying the experience. It is important that we find ways to make learning fun for children. When you want to help your child learn colors, you could drill him and insist he finish a page in a workbook, or you could play color "Go Fish:. I vote for games and meaningful adventures.

Creative parents and teachers set up indirect learning situations. They provide preschool children with dress-up clothes for dramatic play, plastic food for grocery store or dinner play, art materials for making cards and pictures. They never direct the play, they merely facilitate the play by making sure their children have safe and adequate resources.

Sometimes we are so worried that our child will not be ready for kindergarten, we over do a bit on the forced learning. Relax, play with your child. Look for games and activities that expose your child to numbers, colors, shapes, and words. Read stories and expose your child to a variety of experiences. Remember to have fun, and be assured that your child will be learning.