I will beat this drum until my knuckles crack and collapse-- small children do not need academic acceleration, they do not need test prep, they do not need soul-sucking worksheets. They need to play. The folks at Defending the Early Years have another excellent video that drives the point home.
Kisha Reid speaks for just a couple of minutes here, but there are a couple of lines that really jump out for me:
When children don't play, they don't understand their own capabilities.
Repeated experience with materials, repeated experience with other people, are not only teaching them about the world around them but teaching them about themselves.
Yes. If education is about helping students become more fully themselves, figuring out how to be fully human in the world (and I'm pretty certain it is) then play is the single most important thing. The Board of Directors here at the Institute are now 21 months, and though I've been down this road before, I am amazed all over again at all the things they have to figure out, all the things they have to learn, and all the times they'll spend, given the chance, to figure these things out. I might argue that the single biggest thing that education policy arguments forget is that babies come into the world knowing nothing. Yes, that seems obvious-- but every argument that pre-school should become the new third grade and kindergarten should become the new freshman year of college assumes that there's a whole bunch of learning we can skip over because tiny humans just know all that stuff automatically. They do not. They need play. Parents these days are being scared into worrying that their child won't be ready for first grade or third grade or college or life unless she is hunched over a bunch of worksheets at age 3. That's backwards. Play, as Reid points out, is the best way to be ready for all that lies ahead. I hope the Board of Directors gets a teacher who understands these things as well as Reid does.