PLAY=LEARNING Preparing the 21st century child for a global world Professor Kathy Hirsh-Pasek - Temple University Professor Roberta Golinkoff - University of Delaware
The Economic Imperative for Quality Early Education For every dollar spent on quality early childhood education, society saves a minimum of $7 and a maximum of $17 on each person. - Galinsky (2006) Economic benefits of high quality early childhood programs
WHY? On productivity grounds alone, it …makes sound business sense to invest in young children from disadvantaged environments… early childhood interventions are much more effective than remedies that attempt to compensate for early neglect in later life. Enriched pre-kindergarten programs…coupled with home visitation programs, have a strong track record of promoting achievement…, improving labor market outcomes, and reducing involvement with crime. - Heckman & Masterov (2004) The productivity argument for investing in young children
But how do we create quality early childhood environments? Research suggests that high quality early education programs are characterized by playful environments in which children have strong relationships with their caregivers and are engaged in active learning.
And this is true for all children • Rural and urban • Rich and poor • Across all ethnic groups All children need high-quality early education and the opportunity to learn through play!
But whatever happened to play? In 1981, a typical school-age child in the United States had 40% of her time open for play. By 1997, the time for play had shrunk to 25%. What percentage is it down to now??
We are wearing out our youngest children by • Engaging in “drill-and-kill” activities rather than playful and meaningful learning, even at the youngest ages! • Testing for “factoids” rather than real learning
Expecting children to learn like adults has consequences… • Preschoolers in the U.S. are being expelled at 3 times the rate of children in K-12. • Dr. Walter S. Gilliam, the principal investigator of the Yale Child Study • In the 4 billion dollar tutoring business (still growing), 20% of the children being tutored are 2-6 years old (Junior Kumon and Kaplan) • National Public Radio June 6, 2005
And more….. • “Educational” toys have become a billion dollar industry, much of it promoting “one-right-answer” learning and little creativity • Assessment has become a huge industry in the U.S.as accountability becomes the norm and learning is defined through a narrow lens
We are confusinglearning with memorization and academic achievement with success
And parents are barraged with books that speak to their newly created anxietiesabout whether their children will succeed
As a society, we have a choice ROBOTS? CREATIVE THINKERS?
The 21st Century Child Has facts at her fingertips. To be a lifelong learner, and a productive citizen, she must become a creative thinker who can use information in innovative ways.
It is critical to find some balance between the desire to breed little “Einsteins” and the need to foster play as a foundation for academic and social learning.
How did we move from a childhood dominated by play to one that is more skill oriented?
We believe thatWell-intentioned parents and teachers Have been misled by . . . • Exaggerated science • Societal forces • Marketing ploys
Exaggerated Science Remember the “Mozart Effect”?
The REAL evidence Professor Hetland (Harvard): examined 67 studies on the “Mozart Effect” with 4,564 adults “the existence of a short-lived effect by which music enhances . . . performance in adults does not lead to the conclusion that exposing children to classical music will raise their intelligence.”
Societal Forces Even comic strips reflect our insatiable appetite for products that will boost IQ and save our children from the fate of being *gasp* “normal.” From Baby Blues Reprinted with permission of King Features Syndicate
In this talk we will demonstrate . . . What 30 years of developmental science has taught us about how to create lifelong learners.
The accumulated evidence suggests: A talk in three parts 1. Early education is important but . . . - How you learn is as important as what you learn. 2. E.Q. is as important as I.Q. • Each of you has a role to play in helping children become life-long learners. - You are the village
Part 1 • What’s the evidence that early education is important ? 2. E.Q. is as important as I.Q. • Each of you has a role to play in helping children become life-long learners. - You are the village
Three kinds of studies illustrate this point: Early Language Studies Early intervention studies The Head Start Evaluations
Their goal? To understand the achievement gap
The findings… • In an average year, children hear… 11 million words - Professional homes 6 million words - Working class homes 3 million words - Welfare homes • By age 3 these children had HUGE differences in vocabulary and in IQ scores Early Head Start has made a tremendous difference here in helping all children hear more language and use more language!
Early learning matters! We see this in the Head Start data too…
The Head Start Evaluations Early Head Start(2002): 17 programs, 3001 families, random assignment study Head Start Impact Study (2005): 84 programs, 5000 children, random assignment study
The Positive Results Early Head Start(2002): The programs: Center based, Home-based, Mixed approach The findings: Higher Mental Age scores Higher language scores > attention; < aggression > parent involvement, e.g., reading
Positive Results Cont. Head Start Impact Study (2005): The programs: Head Start program vs. Head Start-eligible community The findings: Head Start children had: > pre-reading scores > pre-writing scores > vocabulary < problem behaviors
The positive effect that Head Start attendance has on pre-reading skills is comparable to, or larger than, the effect that homework has on school achievement, the effect that lead poisoning has on diminished IQ scores, and the effect that asbestos exposure has on cancer occurrence (Phillips & McCartney, 2005).
The Abcedarian Project And in an intervention study that spans into adulthood… Campbell & Ramey
These researchers asked: How much can cognitive development be enhanced by environmental stimulation? optimal
Loooooong-term intervention study • Children were either in a high quality • child care environment or an • ordinary environment at age 5. • Children followed until 21 years of age! • What they found might shock you
The bottom line? Early experience matters BUT….
How you learn is as important as what you learn Preschool children in highly academic, “drill and kill” learning environments are: More aggressive More anxious More perfectionistic Than those who learn in playful environments where learning is meaningful.
In reading… • Telling stories • Word play • (what rhymes with “hat”?) • Singing songs • Dialogical reading • Reading product labels • Engaging conversations Many of these are already included in the Virginia Foundations for Early Learning
READING IS NOT • Phonics without fun • Simply memorizing the alphabet or vocabulary words These do NOT build great readers
Why? Learning works best in meaningful contexts!
In math • Finding patterns • Dividing candy • Sorting trail mix • “I spy” • Noticing more and less • (“She got more ice cream”) • Lemonade stands • Playing cards
MATH for PreschoolersIS NOT • Memorizing equations • 1 + 1 = 2 • Flashcards of numbers • Computer software for toddlers