Kindergarten Crisis

Why Children Have to Play in School

Time for play in most public kindergartens has dwindled to the vanishing point, replaced by lengthy lessons and standardized testing, according to three recent studies released by the nonprofit Alliance for Childhood. This group of advocates for children reports that classic play materials have largely disappeared from the 268 full-day conventional classrooms studied.

Authors of the research hail from University of California, Los Angeles, Long Island University and Sarah Lawrence College, in New York. In sounding the warning about the potential intellectual, social and physical repercussions of this widespread educational policy on childhood development, they also point to the academic success associated with play-based schooling in other countries. Students in China and Japan, often heralded for their aptitudes in science, technology, engineering and math, enjoy a play-based experiential approach to school until second grade. Children in Finland, who don’t begin formal schooling until age 6, consistently achieve the highest score on international exams.

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