Most of the kids at the party attend the same preschool. The father of one child enrolled there, where tuition is $14,300 a year for half a day, was asked what he likes about it.
“I like that my daughter can tell me what kind of whale it is we see in a movie,” said the man, sporting a seersucker jacket. “They seem to be teaching things that other schools don’t.”
“You ask them what they did in school today,” chimed in another dad, “and they’re like, ‘Oh, today we learned about pointillism.’ There’s a whole series on Picasso, a four-month project on Klimt.”
The first father continued his praise. “You go in there, and they’re sitting down, learning something,” he said. “At other preschools, they’re just playing.”
These parents might be surprised to learn that “just playing” is in fact what nearly all developmental psychologists, neuroscientists and education experts recommend for children up to age seven as the best way to nurture kids’ development and ready them for academic success later in life. Decades of research have demonstrated that their innate curiosity leads them to develop their social, emotional and physical skills independently, through exploration—that is, through play. Even animals as diverse as squirrels, horses and bears engage in, and cognitively benefit from, play.www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm