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Decline of Meaningful Play in Preschool Could Mean an Increase in Emotional Issues Later

A Decline of Meaningful Play in Preschool Could Mean an Increase in Emotional Issues Later

"Preschool children need to play!" laments pediatric occupational therapist Angela Hanscom in a post for The Washington Post's Answer Sheet.

She admits that, like many other American parents, she once viewed preschool as an important time to begin to develop her daughter's academic skills.

She soon found out that her "obsession" with her daughter's academic success at such an early age was in fact depriving her of other necessary skills and creating emotional issues, a phenomenon she says is directly related to a decrease in play in developing kids.

"Preschool years are not only optimal for children to learn through play, but also a critical developmental period. If children are not given enough natural movement and play experiences, they start their academic careers with a disadvantage," Hanscom said.

And research continually supports this belief—children who have fewer meaningful play experiences have been proven to lack certain social skills.

These children "are more likely to be clumsy, have difficulty paying attention, trouble controlling their emotions, utilize poor problem-solving methods, and demonstrate difficulties with social interactions."

"We are consistently seeing sensory, motor, and cognitive issues pop up more and more in later childhood, partly because of inadequate opportunities to move and play at an early age," she said.

As a result, Hanscom says schools frequently are playing catch-up to make up for the emotional issues spawned from play-less preschools. Schools invest in meditation and specialized exercises to combat social and emotional issues for the youngest of learners whereas Hanscom says meaningful play could have been the answer all along

"Children just need the time, the space, and the permission to be kids. Let the adult-directed learning experiences come later."

Read her full post here and comment with your thoughts below.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor


What do you think is more important for young learners to be provided with in preschool?

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