Importance of Play-Based Learning

"In a wave of cognitive 'reform' in the 1970s, most of the play-based kindergartens in Germany were changed into centers for cognitive achievement.  However, research comparing 50 play-based classes with 50 early-learning centers found that by age ten the children who had played excelled over the others in a host of ways.  They were more advanced in reading and mathematics and they were better adjusted socially and emotionally in school.  They excelled in creativity and intelligence, oral expression and 'industry.'  As a result of this study, German kindergartens returned to being play-based  again."  (citation)

We view academic skills as tools children need to further their own intellectual goals.  Lillian Katz, co-creator of The Project Approach, explains the difference between academic and intellectual goals:

"While academic goals address small units of knowledge and skills, intellectual goals address dispositions or habits of mind that include a variety of tendencies to interpret experience.  Intellectual dispositions include the dispositions to analyze, hypothesize, and synthesize, to predict and to check predictions, to strive for accuracy, to be empirical, grasp the consequences of actions, to persist in seeking problem solutions, to theorize about cause-effect relationships, to predict others’ wishes and feelings, and many others." (citation)