Early childhood education has changed over the years. There is an increasing amount of pressure to pass standardized testing. People who don’t teach children, decided the best way to increase test taking scores is to take away play time in order to increase teaching time. Play time was pitted against learning, and these legislators failed to realized there is no need choose between playing and learning. In fact, children play to learn.
Implementing playful learning, where children are allowed to be role play, interact and be excited about learning, is the easiest way to keep children passionate about learning. Children entering Kindergarten are excited, filled with wonder and joy. Have you ever wondered why children by the 6th grade have lost their enthusiasm to learn? Much of it has to be do with how the joy of learning is sucked from schools. Recess has been cut, art programs are diminishing and children have no outlet for getting out all that innate energy. This is why many parents are now focussing on whole brain education tactics for their children, while making it a fun experience at the same time.
Learning can never be forced. Children have to be inspired to learn. When that joy is ignited, children soar. Let us look at the meaning of ‘Kindergarten’, which means a garden of children. German educator Friedrich Froebel who created the concept of kindergarten, understood the value of nurturing children’s natural playful state. Froebel was very outspoken on the topic of play based learning: “A child who plays thoroughly and perseveringly, until physical fatigue forbids, will be a determined adult, capable of self sacrifice both for his own welfare and that of others.”.
In countries where formal education begins at the age of 7, despite having shorter school days these children continuously outscore their counterparts who begin their school at 4-5. Play based learning is how children create and explore new ideas. If you ever looked at a child’s drawings, you will likely find geometry concepts weaved into their drawing of buildings. Expecting children to memorize and recite shapes, letters and numbers is no more indicative of how much they are learning than allowing children to explore problem solving, social and emotional adaption and original thought. Cultivating children to explore original thought, how to adapt and problem solving are much more likely to be success not only in school, but in life.