Active, Direct Play and Hands-On Experiences

In a recent piece, Nancy Carlsson-Paige was interviewed by Early Childhood Education - NewsWatch, and asked to give her take on where early childhood education most needs direction.  Her thoughts are refreshing to hear:

Children need active, direct play and hands-on experiences. They need to see facts in meaningful contexts, to invent their own ideas and problems to explore and solve, to share their own solutions. Children need literacy activities that include storytelling, quality children’s literature, and dramatic reenactments that grow out of their experiences; they need open-ended materials to build with, arts activities of all kinds, recess and time in nature. And they need teachers who know how to build curriculum from where children are. What we are seeing today is the replacement of this optimal early childhood environment with a narrowed curriculum and formal instruction in literacy and numeracy. I have been in many classrooms where four- and five-year-old children are sitting in chairs receiving direct instruction from the teacher who is following a script or a prescribed curriculum often aligned with tests the children will be given. These practices are harmful to young children and reflect a loss of trust in their intellectual capacities and an institutionalized crushing of their insatiable love of learning.                          

Burnes, Kelly, "Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early Childhood Education.” Weblog entry. ECE NewsWatch. 11.05.12.  11.07.12 (

Let’s keep up the good fight for play-based education.  Our children's "insatiable love of learning” is fostered in these early years.  As we say at Early Childhood Matters, PLAY and learn!

-Rebecca Walsh