Links to Research and News Reports

Below you find articles about “Free Play”, “Digital Media and Early Childhood”, “Schoolreadiness” and “The Role of Imitation in Early Childhood”. The latest articles added are in italics.

Free play

Why adults have to stop trying so darn hard to control how children play.  Article in the Washington Post by Valerie Strauss which explains why free play is important: “If children truly got hours of free play with friends every day both during school and outside of school, they would learn the essential skills of negotiation, trading, conflict-resolution, empathy, kindness, sharing, compassion, and so much more. All we need to do is stop trying so darn hard to control every outcome of every interaction between children. It is time we step back and let the children play – for this is how they’ll learn to cope in the real world” Read more

Have Children Lost their Ability to Play? Education expert Rae Pica notes that teachers often tell her that children don’t know to play anymore. In this 10 minute podcast episode of Studentcentricity, Pica interviews early childhood expert Nancy Carlsson-Paige on how to promote unstructured play in early childhood. Pica and Carlsson-Paige discuss the value of play and comment on how societal factors like media and academic pressure in the early years are impeding children’s natural inclinations to play. Listen the Podcast

Play: Children’s Default Setting. An interesting blog by Adrian Voce, writer and consultant on children’s play. While the precise nature of play remains elusive and indefinable, several academic disciplines – from evolutionary biology to developmental and depth psychology and the emergent neurosciences – each agree in their different ways that children’s play is central to who and what we are. (April 28, 2016) Read more

Being bored is good for children – and adults. This is why. Article by Teresa Belton and published on the website of the World Economic Forum. “Parents often feel guilty if children complain of boredom. But it’s actually more constructive to see boredom as an opportunity rather than a deficit. Parents do have a role, but rushing in with ready-made solutions is not helpful. Rather, children need the adults around them to understand that creating their own pastimes requires space, time and the possibility of making a mess (within limits – and to be cleared up afterwards by the children themselves).”  Download the article

We need hidden worlds. A nice illustrated blog by Laura Grace Weldon about the importance for children to create hidden places during free play. (October 15, 2013 Read more

Symbolic Play and Emergent Literacy. An article by Sandra and William Stone on the website of the International Council for Childrens Play. It might be useful for all those, who want to show, that play is actually a good preparation for formal learning. “The very nature of symbolic play (first-order symbolism) has an intimate relationship with reading and writing (second-order symbolism) in that children use similar representational mental processes in both.” (2007) Read more

Digital Media and Early Childhood

The Power of Human Touch. Article by David Brooks in the New York Times, 19.1.2018 : “It seems that the smarter we get about technology, the dumber we get about relationships. We live in a society in which loneliness, depression and suicide are on the rise. We seem to be treating each other worse. The guiding moral principle here is not complicated: Try to treat other people as if they possessed precious hearts and infinite souls. Everything else will follow.” Read more

Daily touchscreen use in infants and toddlers is associated with reduced sleep and delayed sleep onset. Article published in Scientific Reports N°7, 2017. Traditional screen time (e.g. TV and videogaming) has been linked to sleep problems and poorer developmental outcomes in children. With the advent of portable touchscreen devices, this association may be extending down in age to disrupt the sleep of infants and toddlers, an age when sleep is essential for cognitive development. Read more.

Media and Young Minds. A policy statement released by the American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) concludes that there are multiple developmental and health concerns relating to excess use of digital media including obesity and sleep disruption. This article includes very useful recommendations for care providers and parents. (November 2016)Read the article

Screentime Is Making Kids Moody, Crazy and Lazy. Article by Victoria L. Dunckley M.D published in Psychology Today. “Successfully treating a child with mood dysregulation today requires methodically eliminating all electronics use for several weeks—an “electronics fast”—to allow the nervous system to reset. (August 2015) Read the article

Electronic Toys for Babies Should Be Discouraged, Concludes New Study. The study shows that despite the fact that many electronic toys are marketed as educational for babies, they are detrimental to early language development. (January 15, 2016) Read more

Schoolreadiness

The Right Brain Develops first – Why Play is the Foundation of Academic Learning.  Article by Vince Gowmon published in January 2018 on his website. “Pushing literacy and numeracy on children before age seven may just be harmful to their little, developing brains. Without the capacity to use their academic minds in the ways that are being asked can cause children to gain what’s called “learned stupidity.” They believe themselves to be incapable and lose their natural desire to learn.”

The Gift of Time? School Starting Age and Mental Health. Article by Thomas Dee from the Stanford University and Hans Henrik Sievertsen from The Danish National Centre for Social Research. “In many developed countries, children now begin their formal schooling at an older age. However, a growing body of empirical studies provides little evidence that such schooling delays improve educational and economic outcomes. This study presents new evidence onwhether school starting age influences student outcomes by relying on linked Danish surveyand register data that include several distinct, widely used, and validated measures of mentalhealth that are reported out-of-school among similarly aged children. Read more

Study finds improved self-regulation in kindergartners who wait a year to enroll. A new study on the mental health effects of kindergarten enrollment ages found strong evidence that a one-year delay dramatically improves a child’s self-regulation abilities even into later childhood. (October 7, 2015). Read more

The Role of Imitation in Early Childhood

Helicopter parents who put their children on ‘a pedestal’ are to blame for them still living at home at 25, according to an expert. Article by Sarah Harris for the Daily Mail, 8 December 2017 . “Professor Lancy believes the West should look at other cultures and their more ‘natural’ ways of rearing children. He said: ‘I think one of the greatest things that we’ve lost, which you become aware of in a village in somewhere like Papua New Guinea, (is that) children have learned from watching other people do stuff. ‘I mean building things, making things, working out of doors, watching adults work on the farm.‘Even before children’s attention was captured 24/7 by social media and video games, play had moved indoors. Partly for safety concerns, the overprotection issue. ‘If I were a parent (or teacher) of children now, I would make sure that they had opportunities to watch. Then even better, to pitch in, help out.’ Read more.

Imitation, Interaction and Recognition. Communication between Children and Adults in the Waldorf Kindergarten.  Article by Arve Mathisen and Frode Thorjussen from the Rudolf Steiner University College, Oslo, Norway. The authors present ideas and perspectives that may inspire an expanded understanding of imitation and a reconsideration of what is at stake in the interaction between children and adults. The argument is that Steiner’s statements regarding imitation will not lose their significance, but that an element of dialogue and response can be added and thus enrich the understanding of human and material encounters in the Waldorf kindergarten. Published in ROSE, (Research in Steiner Education) Vol 7, December 2016. Download the article