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This is a great post that introduces the rapidly-growing trend of using “Tools of the Mind” curricula in early childhood education…..the curricula are designed as play-centered activities to supplement the traditional literacy and numeracy programs. The idea is that guided free play allows children to develop abilities in creative problem-solving, conflict resolution, emotional self-regulation and creativity/self expression in ways that traditional classroom teaching methods cannot.
I think this is a fascinating and wonderful step forward in our attitudes toward early childhood education, and in raising happy, healthy children. So go ahead……let them have that extra 5 or 10 minutes to play before bed, it may be one of the best things you do for them!


There are sound educational reasons as to why a play-based approach is a good idea in the early years of school. Youngchildren may switch off from learning if all activities are teacher-led and they have to sit and listen for long periods of time. Play also develops children’s thinking skills. Children learn to think through problems, rather than learning facts. Knowing facts is not that useful in new situations. On the other hand, teaching children to be able to think creatively about a problem, without worrying whether they are right or wrong is a valuable skill. Many schools now teach thinking skills in their lessons but young children learn this through play. Fisher (1992) analysed the results of a number of studies into children’s play and concluded that children who are engaged in more pretend play perform better on tests of cognitive, language and creativity development.

Many schools in…

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