One of my amazing teacher buddies recommended I read Einstein Never Used Flashcards: How Our Children Really Learn-and Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less. After discovering my local library had a copy of the book I placed myself on the waiting list. Once it arrived I found myself drawn to reading it. (This is difficult because my six month son is a little demanding at the moment. Any moms out there have advice for getting a little one to sleep through the night?) Whenever I got a chance I would read a couple of pages and think about what was written until I got a chance to continue reading.
Right now there is a very strong emphasis on parents and teachers preparing children to compete in a global market. Children are encouraged to memorize, read, and study before they enter preschool. Children is school are losing valuable recess time to teach all the material on the big tests. Play is structured instead of inspired. Students are having to deal with large loads of homework and extreme pressure.
The myth that we need to be preparing our children from the womb to compete is invasive. My son is six months old. I've had early childhood training and even I was buying into the idea that I was failing him by not breaking out flashcards and instructional toys. This book calmed my fears.
Parents do not need to spend a boatload of money hiring tutors, buying the latest toys and videos, scheduling their toddlers for absurd classes, or sending them to advanced private schools. Parents need to spend time with their children playing. They need to give them unstructured time to play alone, with other children, and with adults who will raise their play to a higher level.
The authors explain recent data and studies and how play benefits children in educational, social, and emotional ways. They provide small experiments you can complete with your child. Reading this book is already impacting how I interact with my son. I can't wait to apply more ideas from the book once he gets a bit older.
What do you think? Is play being pushed aside in favor of academics? Do you still have recess?