On Friday my son's playschool director shared an article with me. I found it very interesting especially since I have the same quote from Albert Einstein on my website "Imagination is more important than knowledge. For while knowledge defines all we currently know and understand, imagination points to all we might yet discover and create."

So many parents ask me or others "can your child read yet", "how far can your child count", "does your child know all their letters, numbers, colors, and so on and so on and so on". I am a Mommy to four children ages 4-15. I do not have a degree in child psychology but I have 23 years of experience in teaching preschool aged children. What happened to imaginative play? Why are parents so focused on making sure their child can out perform other children?

When I walk in my son's playschool class I am not worried about what he knows but rather can he share, take turns, interact with others, listen and follow directions, and is he getting to just play. When I saw this article I thought to myself.....this is something I want all parents to read and think about. I know from experience that all that "knowledge" that some parents drill into their children is just memorization. They will get it later anyway. I am not saying that you should not work with your preschooler if they show an interest. Great, if they want to read, write, count, then let them go for it.

I wish that parents would stop focusing so hard on academics, and just sit back and watch their children play. Read with them, color with them, play dress up, build with them, and follow their lead. Geometry, Biology, English, and writing tests are just around the corner. They have so many years ahead of them to perform to the best of their academic abilities; this is the only time in their lives that they can be a child. Let them just be 3 and 4 years old for now.

Here's part of the article. The full article can be found at: Alliance for Childhood.

Time for play in most public kindergartens has dwindled to the vanishing point, replaced by lengthy lessons and standardized testing, according to three new studies released today by the Alliance for Childhood. Classic play materials like blocks, sand and water tables, and props for dramatic play have largely disappeared from the 268 full-day kindergarten classrooms studied.

The studies were conducted by researchers from U.C.L.A., Long Island University, and Sarah Lawrence College in New York. Their findings are documented in Crisis in the Kindergarten: Why Children Need to Play in School.

The researchers found that:

- On a typical day, kindergartners in Los Angeles and New York City spend four to six times as long being instructed and tested in literacy and math (two to three hours per day) as in free play or "choice time" (30 minutes or less).
- Standardized testing and preparation for tests are now a daily activity in most of the kindergartens studied, despite the fact that the use of most such tests with children under age eight is scientifically invalid and leads to harmful labeling.
- In many kindergarten classrooms there is no playtime at all. Teachers say the curriculum does not incorporate play, there isn't time for it, and many school administrators do not value it.

Child development experts have been raising alarms about the increasingly didactic, test-driven, and joyless course of early childhood education. "These practices, which are not well grounded in research, violate long-established principles of child development and good teaching," states the Alliance's report. "It is increasingly clear that they are compromising both children's health and their long-term prospects for success in school."

Miss Kim

Author's Bio: 

"Miss Kim", aka Kim Black, has taught tap and ballet for 22 years, mostly to the younger dancers. She's just like every other busy mom... four children, PTA mom, Sunday school teacher, taxi car driver for the kids, part time real estate agent and former nurse. Visit her web site and blog to read more, or to purchase her Creative Movement DVD - Pretend with Miss Kim! www.MissKimDance.com