I thoroughly enjoyed Tara Parker Pope's article in last week's New York Times article entitled Simon Says Don't Use Flashcards . My favorite quote from the article is, “We tend to equate learning with the content of learning, with what information children have, rather than the how of learning.”
She goes on to explain that children need to develop their executive function skills, which include vitally important abilities such as planning, anticipating, organizing, strategizing and the ability to focus. Without these skills we are not able to put information to good use. Flashcards are excellent for rote memorization, and there are certain things that do need to be memorized, but research shows that learning how to learn through focus and self-control early in our lives is critical in helping us to have better academic success over time.
So, when our Lower School Division Director, Gillian Goodman, says to parents that play is childrens work, she is exactly right. Through play they are learning skills that will help them to become better students and at the same time develop their interpersonal skills with other youngsters.
Parker Pope's article goes on to recommend how to increase the intricacies of play in order to help children improve their ability to plan, strategize and organize themselves to do important learning.