Which types of animals do we use? Earlier this month the “Too Much, Too Soon” pre-school education age made headlines with a letter calling for a change to the start age for formal learning in schools.
This is a brief review of the relevant research evidence which overwhelmingly supports a later start to formal education. There are several strands of evidence which all point towards the importance of play in young children’s development, and the value of an extended period of playful learning before the start of formal schooling. These arise from anthropological, psychological, neuroscientific and educational studies. In my own area of experimental and developmental psychology, studies have also consistently demonstrated the superior learning and motivation arising from playful, as opposed to instructional, approaches to learning in children.
Pretence play supports children’s early development of symbolic representational skills, including those of literacy, more powerfully than direct instruction. Within educational research, a number of longitudinal studies have demonstrated superior academic, motivational and well-being outcomes for children who had attended child-initiated, play-based pre-school programmes. One particular study of 3,000 children across England, funded by the Department for Education themselves, showed that an extended period of high quality, play-based pre-school education was of particular advantage to children from disadvantaged households. Studies have compared groups of children in New Zealand who started formal literacy lessons at ages 5 and 7. Their results show that the early introduction of formal learning approaches to literacy does not improve children’s reading development, and may be damaging.
This body of evidence raises important and serious questions concerning the direction of travel of early childhood education policy currently in England. In the interests of children’s academic achievements and their emotional well-being, the UK government should take this evidence seriously. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence. If you use this content on your site please link back to this page. Download issue 35 of Research Horizons. Prentice Hall Pearson Prentice Hall and our other respected imprints provide educational materials, technologies, assessments and related services across the secondary curriculum. Take a closer look at the instructional resources we offer for secondary school classrooms.
Use the Web Code found in your Pearson textbook to access supplementary online resources. Welcome to the Harbury Pre-School web site. Whether you already have a child at our Pre-School or are visiting the site for the first time, we hope that you will find what you need here. Established in the 1970s, we are a small, committee-led village Pre-School situated in the centre of Harbury. We were graded ‘good’ by OFSTED in our last inspection in 2016 and offer high quality Pre-School education for children from the age of 2 years 9 months up until school age. From September 2018 we are extending our opening hours.