Research Finds It Pays to Play in Early Childhood Education

In a recent blog post published in the Washington Post, Nancy Carlsson-Paige, an expert in early childhood education, argues that focusing on the “achievement gap” should take far less precedence over focusing on what she calls the “play gap” in preschools and kindergartens across the country.


Carlsson-Paige who has been a leader in early childhood education for decades says that ever since the No Child Left Behind act, there has been a growing emphasis on rote learning at the pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten level. The problem with this, says Carlsson-Page, is that children best learn naturally, through playing, when “they are fully engaged-body, mind and spirit.”


According to the article, playing benefits children in many ways including boosting “problem solving skills, social and emotional awareness, self-regulation, imagination, and inner resilience.” These benefits are even greater, says Carlsson-Paige, to low income students who often don’t have time to have fun and learn outside the classroom, compared to their more well-off peers, contributing to the overall education gap.  

“Many urban, low-income children have limited play opportunities outside of school, which makes in-school playtime even more vital for them. But what studies now show is that the children who need play the most in the early years of school get the least. Children in more affluent communities have more classroom play time. They have smaller class sizes and more experienced teachers who know how to provide for play-based learning. Children in low income, under-resourced communities have larger class sizes, less well-trained teachers, heavier doses of teacher-led drills and tests, and less play.”


At Wu Yee, we agree with Nancy Carlsson-Paige that playing is an integral part of not only early childhood education, but childhood in general. That’s why Wu Yee Children’s Services offers a unique learning environment where children can learn through play and practical life experience. We are proud to offer the benefits of play to low-income children in neighborhoods across San Francisco to help them reach their full potential both in school and later on in life.

Want to learn more about how Wu Yee helps low-income families across San Francisco? Visit our website today!