In the News: Can America Come Out to Play?
In Finland, good parenting is equated with how much time one provides for outdoor play. Finland also routinely outperforms the U.S. in reading, math, and science. Coincidence? We think not.
The American Academy of Pediatrics published a clinical report in 2018 which states that play boosts mental and physical health, and develops executive function. And yet, more and more, children are being tested for entrance as early as preschool.
The U.S. is notorious for its focus on standardized testing. Finland, on the other hand, focuses on equity and happiness in early education. The irony is, Finland’s approach to education was actually inspired by American education research and philosophers such as John Dewey.
Now, the tables have been turned and the U.S. is starting to take cues from the Finnish education system. In school districts in Texas, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and New York, kids are being given 60 minutes of outdoor free play. As a result, there have been big improvements in academic performance and concentration. Other countries like China and Singapore are also experimenting with play-based education.
If Americans truly believe that the work of a child is to play, we have to rethink our approach to education. We need to make a cultural shift away from anxiety-driven test prep and simply make time to let kids be who they are.