My daughter-in law texted the link to this article before it arrived on my driveway Sunday morning. She knows I am a big proponent of play in young children for many reasons. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association just released a parent survey related to concern that young children are spending too much time on technology devices replacing time spent in face-to-face interactions where kids under 3 primarily learn language. Also, I have spent over 35 years as a speech language pathologist, conducting my therapy in a play-based manner and know what great results I can get when kids learn through play.
This article cited some fascinating research on how academic teaching in kindergarten can backfire, saying “Some research indicates that early instruction in reading and other areas may help some students, but these boosts appear to be temporary.” “Other research has found that early didactic instruction might actually worsen academic performance.” I like what David Whitebread, a psychologist at Cambridge University said who has studied this topic, ““Play is often perceived as immature behavior that doesn’t achieve anything…But it’s essential to their development. They need to learn to persevere, to control attention, to control emotions. Kids learn these things through playing.” Bravo, I agree.
Take a look at the whole article and tuck it away for when you are challenged by a parent or teacher as to why play is important for your preschooler or early elementary student. I was just faced with such a discussion with a new parent who was strongly opposed to a play-based preschool for her child. It helps to be armed with research.