Even at the early childhood and kindergarten level, many parents associate the idea of “a good education” with structured, skills-focused instruction. Kindergarteners must learn their letters, numbers, and colors and build the foundations that they will need for all future schooling; that is the point of kindergarten, is it not?
A recent study by education researchers at NYU suggests, however, that structured class time is not the only way, or even the best way. The study showed that use of the “Tools for the Mind” curriculum, which focuses on structured play, led to the development of greater language and math skills than did an ordinary kindergarten curriculum. While prior research has not always shown a correlation between “Tools of the Mind” and basic skills, the new study is encouraging. At the very least, it should inspire us to think critically about how we approach early childhood education, and to remember that children need to play.
You can read more about the study at Reuters Health.