Photo courtesy of Lucille Lucy
By Steve Sears
Lucille Lucy, former Long Valley resident and teacher at both Flocktown-Kossman and Old Farmers Road schools, has a loving suggestion for parents.
“I want to encourage families – parents – to play games with their children. When they’re waiting in the doctor’s office, out at the restaurant waiting for food to come…anytime they are with their children. At an airport? Take half of the deck (of cards) and play with them.”
Lucy speaks from experience, has practiced what she is preaching, and is also the creator of Play ‘N Learn Games, which encourages three things: learning, enjoyable family time spent together, and praise for the child. Play ‘n Learn consists of four games called “Dig for Gold” (learning to recognize capital letters), “Challenge” (a fun way to learn math), “Got It!” (learning to recognize lower case letters), and “Highest Count” (a game about money).
Lucy, 78, comes from an Armenian background, her role models her hard working, immigrant parents. Armenian genocide survivors, both had only minor educations, and built their own business making pastries of their homeland. “From the very beginning, my parents always said when we were even little children, ‘You’re so lucky you were born in America. You don’t know how lucky you are.’ My mother went to first grade, I believe my father went to second grade, and then the schools were closed down because of the Turkish uprising. So, they left school, and they realized the importance of how wonderful it was to live in America.”
Lucy as a child used to play teacher in her home, and she always had a deep interest in science. She entered college with that major but switched to elementary education. As a teacher, she noticed something important. “While I was teaching, the more experience I got, the more I realized that children need something more than what’s in the standard curriculum in that school program. The best way for children to learn is to have fun. They play games, and they don’t even know they’re learning.” She kept a list of her kindergarten students and what their needs were, color-coded charts, implemented math and reading, and slowly Play ‘n Learn Games was created.
Lucy’s Play ‘n Learn Games are for ages 3 to 8+, and Lucy may have other games in her as well. “I would love to see them go on,” she says, “because if all the games were made available to the public, it could fit into a curriculum in any school, because it would be in an academic sequence, so that as you progress in one you go to another. And as I have said, children need a variety; you can’t just play the same game over and over again.” Lucy also sends out periodic newsletters that focus on praising your child, positive family relationships, playing is learning, helpful hints for learning, multiplication tricks, all the before-mentioned to be used as a great side-by-side with Play ‘n Learn Games. Lucy also mentions a key point. “And then the last one that is a benefit for grandparents and military families is that my game can be played remotely, either by Zoom or FaceTime or Skype, as long as both parties have the same game, and those two games are “Challenge” and “Highest Count,” the money game.”
Lucille Lucy has two mottos: “Play Games + Praise + Have Fun = Learning” and “Don’t Ever Give Up!” “I had a picture – I don’t know if you’ve ever seen it – it is a frog that is being choked by a bird. I saw that someplace, and I said, ‘Wow, isn’t that terrific?!’ You know, a picture’s worth 1,000 words. This frog is not giving up, even though the stork is trying to swallow him. So, don’t ever give up. I’ve had challenges through the years with different students and families and family situations where you have to be positive. You have to keep going and you don’t ever give up. That’s the one thing that has kept me going.”
For more information about Play ‘n Learn Games, visit www.playnlearngames.com.