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Why playing while they learn is important
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January 19, 2016  |  Written by M. Rodrigo Brao

Different investigations reveal that the pressure on preschool kids to excel in academics increases every year. A number of recent programs are designed so children learn language and math in almost a formal setting, much like school. But in doing so, they lose the essence of learning through play, which according to the experts is critical during this phase of development. Have you ever wondered how your children are taught? Discover why it´s so important that they do so by playing.

“For the majority of children under 5, play is the foundation to develop creativity, problem solving, self regulation and learning in general,” says Susan Linn, co-founder of Commercial Free Childhood and author of the book The Case for Make believe.

Playing also helps preschool children perfect certain abilities that will be very useful when the time to learn certain subjects arrives later on. An example? Story time helps build their aptitudes for pre-reading like rhymes, word games and the capacity to follow and understand a story. A simple activity like making soap bubbles lays down the foundation to talk about space and playing with building blocks can make room for geometry. The games based on repetition perfect their motor skills and team games improve their social skills.

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Also worthy of mention is the importance of letting kids “play freely”. In this sense, a recent study from MIT proves that free play has the potential of improving learning. Researchers presented two sets of pre-schoolers an interactive toy that sang, lit up, and played music, among other things. The first group was taught how to get the toy to sing. While the second group received no instruction. The result? The second group discovered everything the toy could do, simply by experimenting and playing with it. While the first group, the ones who were given instruction only knew how to make the toy “sing”. It´s much better to let the kids test, try, work it out on their own instead of telling them what to do, just like we mentioned in our article: The Importance of being bored.

“Too much of a formal education can be un-motivating for pre-schoolers, many of whom are not yet ready to physically hold a pencil or remain still in front of a paper full of exercises,” says Loraine Carbon, director of the Preschool Center at Sarah Lawrence College, in Bronxville, Nueva York. Besides, the academic approach at an early age is not the best way to get them ready for school. A study at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville discovered that students in fourth grade who attended preschools who are based on play, far exceeded others in academia and social skills. A recent study published in Early Childhood Research & Practice revealed that there is a direct link between role-play and oral expression and language.

The success of your children in the future does not depend on whether the preschool you send them to techs them math or language. It depends on whether their teachers use play as part of the learning process. In the long term, it’s far better to seek a preschool that emphasizes play.

If you are interested in learning more about pre-schoolers, we encourage you to read this post to discover what 5 types of toys they need.

Do you agree that pre-schoolers should learn by playing? Please share your opinion with our readers and us!

Photo Credits: Shutterstock

 

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