A Mandate for Playful Learning in Preschool: Presenting the Evidence

Cover of book "A Mandate for Playful Learning in Preschool"

Efforts to give preschool children a head start on academic skills like reading and mathematics instead rob them of play time both at home and school. Indeed, the scientific evidence suggests that eliminating play from the lives of children is taking preschool education in the wrong direction. This brief but compelling book provides a strong counterargument to the rising tide of didactic instruction on preschool classrooms. The book presents scientific evidence in support of three points: children need both unstructured free time and playful learning under the gentle guidance of adults to best prepare for entrance into formal school; academic and social development are inextricably intertwined, so academic learning must not trump attention to social development; and learning and play are not incompatible. Rather, playful learning captivates children’s minds in ways that support better academic and social outcomes as well as strategies for lifelong learning. This book reviews research supporting playful learning along with succinct policy and practice recommendations that derive from this research.

Efforts to give preschool children a head start on academic skills like reading and mathematics instead rob them of play time both at home and school. Indeed, the scientific evidence suggests that eliminating play from the lives of children is taking preschool education in the wrong direction. This brief but compelling book provides a strong counterargument to the rising tide of didactic instruction on preschool classrooms. The book presents scientific evidence in support of three points: children need both unstructured free time and playful learning under the gentle guidance of adults to best prepare for entrance into formal school; academic and social development are inextricably intertwined, so academic learning must not trump attention to social development; and learning and play are not incompatible. Rather, playful learning captivates children’s minds in ways that support better academic and social outcomes as well as strategies for lifelong learning. This book reviews research supporting playful learning along with succinct policy and practice recommendations that derive from this research.

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