My child's spelling is coming along nicely. Where are we with the monkey bars? / by James Huggins

I wanted to post this video in response to an article on The Washington Post blog discussing the findings of a new report on why children in day care are becoming increasingly more sedentary. Essentially, the researchers were looking into why the amount of free, open, and most importantly, physical play is gradually decreasing. As it turns out, according to the report, it is the parents and not the teachers or carers who are to blame. Increasingly there is pressure from parents to focus less on open play and more on literacy and numeracy, favouring the more structured approach found in school. The article asks nursery teachers what they would say to the large numbers of parents who say, "Play is not as important as academics. I want my child to learn her letters, to learn how to read, so when she gets into school she can succeed. I don’t much care if she masters the monkey bars."

Play is not as important as academics. I want my child to learn her letters, to learn how to read, so when she gets into school she can succeed. I don’t much care if she masters the monkey bars.

Now this is no earth-shattering revelation. It generally gets coverage in a newspaper because the journalist know that a lot of people, such as myself, will react. If you're reading this blog then in all likelihood you're of the mind that this kind of attitude is not only a bit depressing, but just plain wrong. Surely we don't need any more research or global professional consensus to prove to us parents that play isn't just an important part of early childhood development, but the dominant medium by which people, not just children, learn to understand themselves as well as others and the world around them. What's more, it is vital that our kids experience the most diverse and varied forms of play possible. Early childhood education is about preparing for life, not school.

Early childhood education is about preparing for life, not school.

So would I be happy if my kids managed to spell Quintessential correctly? Sure... but no more than if they constructed a mighty woodland fort, sung a song they just made up or mastered those darn monkey bars.

Here's The Washington Post article which also links to the sudy. I came across the article on Twitter thanks to Playworks, the US charity run by Jill Vialet.