The most important thing for which we can prepare a child is the experience of freedom, at the right moment in life, through the understanding of one's own being.

 

Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925)

Early Childhood
Child development, urbanisation, play, cognitive development, education, parents’ evening
By: Dr. David Whitebread, May 2018,

Rough and Tumble, Piggy-in-the-Middle, Minecraft and More


“The evidence for the developmental benefits of play is actually now overwhelming”, says Dr. David Whitebread, senior lecturer in psychology and education at the University of Cambridge UK. He is an expert in the cognitive development of young children and in early childhood education. In the attached paper, Dr. Whitebread and his team draw on studies from a wide variety of cultures, cultures in the developing world as well as in modern, urbanised societies, to explore the value of children’s play.

The team provides ample evidence for the notion that without play, language, culture and technology would not be possible. They are convinced that play has a relationship with intellectual achievement and emotional well-being.

 

However, the paper also points out that about half of the world’s children are living in cities which results in children being over-supervised and over-scheduled. This is likely to have a negative effect on children’s independence, resourcefulness and overall development. Further, increasing urbanization, increasing stress in the family, changes in educational systems and an increase in the time children spend with digital devices at an ever younger age are all factors contributing to less time spent playing. 

 

The paper offers a wealth of thoroughly researched information for early childhood educators, teachers or trainee teachers and could form the basis of a parents’ evening on the crucial role of play in children’s development.

 

The paper is only available in English and can be downloaded here.



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