In the current newsletter of the Society for Research in Child Development, there is a piece entitled “Sharing Science: From the Lab to the Classroom”. The authors, Golinkoff, et al, raise the all important question, “How would teachers, administrators, policy-makers at various levels and the lay public know about the importance of playful learning and the evidence for it if we did not share what we have learned from research? Writing for audiences outside our peers is crucial for bringing the science to where it really matters: practice.” Theirs is another call to “Give Psychology Away”.
The authors point out how vital this “giving away of psychology” is in the current climate of parental anxiety, partly the outcrop of “No Child Left Behind” and contemporary parental fear of children’s future economic failure. Sure, earlier exposure to mathematics and reading can increase “readiness”, but these authors argue against what they call, “preschool sweatshops”, pointing out again that “LEARNING AND PLAY ARE NOT INCOMPATIBLE”; in fact, “Learning takes place when children are engaged and enjoying themselves”.
Later on in the same article, the authors announce, “the benefits of preschool education have now been heralded by President Obama…Having established that preschool education is important for school readiness, it is now incumbent upon us, researchers in the field, to use our best science to suggest how we should fashion our preschool pedagogy. "ALTHOUGH IT IS NOT THE ONLY WAY THAT CHILDREN LEARN, THE RESEARCH SUPPORTS THE VIEW THAT FREE AND GUIDED PLAY…IS ‘THE ESSENTIAL PEDAGOGICAL STRATEGY FOR YOUNG CHILDREN” (Kagan and Lowenstein).
“If we in the field don’t convey this message, we leave a vacuum for policy to be made in the absence of evidence.”
In my long tenure as a Scholastic Consultant, I have argued again and again for the meaningfulness of play in early childhood. It is one way that I have tried to follow the injunction to “Give Psychology Away”.
More Articles About Play:
- When Little Kids Play War
- The Power of Pretend Play
- Between Teacher & Parent: "I Don't Want to Play"
- Celebrate Pretend Play
- Tree Climbing vs. Tea Parties
- Between Teacher & Parent: "I'll Play by Myself!"
- Between Teacher & Parent: Powerful Fantasies
- Between Teacher & Parent: "Why Can't I Play, Too?"
- Between Teacher & Parent: "I'll Catch the Bad Guys!"