In a parenting environment of ever-easy access to a plethora of advice, blogs, articles, and pseudo-science, the escalating pressure to provide even very young children with academic experiences can be overwhelming! Are you talking enough? Are you singing enough? How qualified is their teacher? Baby Einstein: yes or no? Is your infant hitting social-emotional milestones?
As busy parents, it can often feel like the list of “TO DO’s” to nurture your child’s development grows daily.
Good news: It’s OK to just play.
The fads of “building your baby’s brain” are just new ways of saying what child development experts have proven time and again: the majority of children WILL learn and will learn best by playing.
A recent article titled “Reclaiming Play in Schools” by researchers at the University of Oklahoma issued this important caution and reminder:
Free and independent play—both in schools and in the home—is becoming a rarity in the lives of many children around the world. Even early years classrooms are increasingly faced with political and community pressure to focus more on teaching literacy and other academic skills to young children. At home, overuse of electronic devices means many children are not engaging in active play experiences and parents and community members may not fully facilitate such play. However, prevailing research points to the many benefits of play, showing a strong correlation between play and physical, cognitive, and social well-being.*
We’ll say it again: ACADEMIC programs in Early Education are a misfire. They do not effectively provide children with an environment to cultivate lifelong learning. Rote memorization, for a 3 year old, is not an authentic learning experience. Recitation of the ABC’s does not validate your 2.5 year old’s intellect anymore than them having memorized the lyrics to a pop song.