The Néw York Times has a terrific article about the importance of play in early childhood development. The article cites research on cognitive development to show that children eventually are better students if they learn through play rather than direct instruction.

The article points out that the Common Core standards do not reflect what cognitive scientists understand about how young children learn.

Didactic instruction for young children may actually harm their intellectual, social, and emotional development.

The author, David Kohn, writes:

“TWENTY years ago, kids in preschool, kindergarten and even first and second grade spent much of their time playing: building with blocks, drawing or creating imaginary worlds, in their own heads or with classmates. But increasingly, these activities are being abandoned for the teacher-led, didactic instruction typically used in higher grades. In many schools, formal education now starts at age 4 or 5. Without this early start, the thinking goes, kids risk falling behind in crucial subjects such as reading and math, and may never catch up.

“The idea seems obvious: Starting sooner means learning more; the early bird catches the worm.

“But a growing group of scientists, education researchers and educators say there is little evidence that this approach improves long-term achievement; in fact, it may have the opposite effect, potentially slowing emotional and cognitive development, causing unnecessary stress and perhaps even souring kids’ desire to learn.”

Do you think the promoters of the Common Core will listen?