“The best predictor of whether a child will become a satisfied adult is not their academic achievement but their emotional health in childhood”. ―Authors of the 2015 World Happiness Report
Parents and educators often confuse the pursuit of academic outcomes in early childhood with happiness and success.
How often have parents wanted their children to be ready for school by being able to write their name, start to read and count to fifty?
The other day, I heard a story about a preschool teacher doing a lot of directed ‘pencil and paper’ work in her room.
The children loved it for a few weeks but then became unhappy and didn’t want to come to preschool any more. While these directed activities are enjoyable for a while, children mainly need and thrive on the open ended learning experiences that we usually call ‘play’.
Play is a complex cognitive and social activity that supports children’s brain development in all areas―physical, cognitive, social and emotional.
When families understand that ‘happiness’, social and emotional wellbeing and positive mental health, all lead to better academic outcomes and lifelong satisfaction, they are more able to partner with educators in valuing play with their children.
Working with families in this way supports early childhood settings to offer a curriculum that is varied, rich, play based, stimulating, and, at times, teacher directed.
This kind of environment will bring a smile to a child’s face and joy to their heart. Here they can learn and explore in self-directed, self-paced ways, while pursuing their passions and following their bliss.
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