More Math, Less Fun; Is Playtime in Peril?

Filed under: In The News, Research Reveals: Toddlers & Preschoolers, Research Reveals: Big Kids

Kids Running

Kindergartners play eight hours less per week compared to 20 years ago. Credit: jupiterimages

Kids today have eight fewer hours of play during the week than they did 20 years ago, and even kindergartners are leaving the Play-Doh behind for a focus on academic subjects.

According to an article in Monitor on Psychology, the report, "Crisis in the Kindergarten: Why Children Need to Play in School," comes to some alarming conclusions. Among the findings is the fact that kindergartners in New York City and Los Angeles spend almost three hours a day engaged in reading and math instruction and test preparation, leaving fewer than 30 minutes for "choice time," or play.

Complied by a nonprofit group of psychologists and educators called the Alliance for Childhood, the report also warned that kids are getting fewer and fewer hours of dress-up and make-believe at home, due to organized sports, video games and educational computer games.

Wait a minute -- don't we want our kids to focus on reading and math right away? The experts say no."Play is really important for young children, for social and cognitive development," psychologist Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, a child development researcher at Temple University, told Monitor on Psychology. "And yet we're taking it away."

Hirsh-Pasek asserts that a fear of failure prompts parents to push their children harder and faster than earlier generations -- for example, expecting kids to learn how to read in kindergarten instead of in first grade. She added that creativity and and critical thinking are fostered through childhood play.

"Playful learning leads to literacy and math skills," Hirsh-Pasek told the publication.

Do your kids play less than you did?


Related: School Library Dumps Books, Penmanship a Relic of the Past

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.