Home » ExchangeEveryDay » Value of Play-Based Classrooms

ExchangeEveryDay Past Issues

<< Previous Issue | View Past Issues | | Next Issue >> ExchangeEveryDay
Value of Play-Based Classrooms
March 23, 2021
Asking teachers to follow scripted curriculum is like asking artists to paint by number.
-John Spencer
“A number of well-controlled studies have compared the effects of academically oriented early education classrooms with those of play-based classrooms...,” wrote Peter Gray, Ph.D., in a Psychology Today article.

“The results are quite consistent from study to study: Early academic training somewhat increases children’s immediate scores on the specific tests that the training is aimed at (no surprise), but these initial gains wash out within 1 to 3 years and, at least in some studies, are eventually reversed. Perhaps more tragic than the lack of long-term academic advantage of early academic instruction is evidence that such instruction can produce long-term harm, especially in the realms of social and emotional development.”

In her popular book, A Young Writer’s World: Creating Early Childhood Classrooms Where Authors Abound, Rebecca McMahon Giles, Ph.D., explains how play-based activities best help young children develop the skills needed as they begin to experiment with writing. She provides these ideas:

“Offer Opportunities to Encourage Fine Motor Development
• Provide spray water bottles to care for plants or create sidewalk art.
• Place child-safe tweezers or tongs, small malleable items (sponge pieces or pom-poms) and numbered sorting containers (ice cube trays or muffin tins) in the math center.
• Provide spring-loaded clothespins in the housekeeping center to hang doll clothes and costumes or in the science center to sequence picture cards on a line.
• Add small child-sized paper punches to the art center.
• Provide small tops to spin in the fine motor area.
• Display cards, coins, or buttons on the floor, and encourage children to turn them over.
• Put a manual eggbeater in the water table to create bubbles with dish washing liquid.
• Provide plastic eyedroppers for art projects or science experiments.
• Place finger puppets in the library/listening center.”

Source: “Early Academic Training Produces Long-Term Harm:
Research reveals potential risks of academic preschools and kindergartens,” b
y Peter Gray, Ph.D., Psychology Today, May 5, 2015

A Young Writer's World
Creating Early Childhood Classrooms
Where Authors Abound

Use coupon code WRITER
at checkout for 20% off this resource!

Developing young writers takes energy and creativity, wisdom and strategy, intention and reflection. All are provided here, in abundance. This book is a tool and a resource written by someone who knows the terrain deeply and treats it with reverence.

A Young Writer's World invites you to celebrate and explore the world of words with your young ones – seeing letters and words in everyday life, connecting language with play on a daily basis, and entering into the delight of literacy, print, and connection with children as they become readers, speakers, and writers.

May not be combined with any other offer.
Offer ends April 9, 2021, at 11:59 pm PST.
Not valid on past purchases or bulk discounts.


Delivered five days a week containing news, success stories, solutions, trend reports, and much more.

What is ExchangeEveryDay?

ExchangeEveryDay is the official electronic newsletter for Exchange Press. It is delivered five days a week containing news stories, success stories, solutions, trend reports, and much more.

Comments (2)

Displaying All 2 Comments
Tiffany Peckham · March 24, 2021
Lincoln, NE, United States


John Spencer is an author of such books as Empower: What Happens When Students Own Their Own Learning.

Thank you for asking!

-Tiffany at Exchange

Margaret Benson · March 23, 2021
State College, PA, United States

I love the quote about teaching with a scripted curriculum, and am curious to know who the John Spencer you attributed it to, is.


Post a Comment

Have an account? to submit your comment.


Your e-mail address will not be visible to other website visitors.

Check the box below, to help verify that you are not a bot. Doing so helps prevent automated programs from abusing this form.

Disclaimer: Exchange reserves the right to remove any comments at its discretion or reprint posted comments in other Exchange materials.