Friday, November 4, 2011

Want to Get Your Kids Into College? Let Them Play

Really? Play gets kids into college? What could be better?

At Think-a-lot Toys, we've long advocated that play is an important factor in education. Play gets kids to have fun while learning new things. It teaches them how to interact socially and emotionally in healthy ways. So when I came across an article by a Harvard professor and an early childhood teacher who serve as "Masters" of a residential house at Harvard, I felt it was worth passing on because it shatters some of our beliefs that we have about how to create smart kids.

Their article says that while most parents think that while play-based education is good for a kid's childhood, skills-based education is what will get them into Harvard. After working with Harvard students for many years, they both came to the conclusion that in fact, this belief is wrong and should be switched. A play-based curriculum is better at getting kids into Harvard than a skills-based one.

Why? Because a play-based curriculum teaches kids how to play well with others. It teaches them how to listen to the feelings and ideas of others. It teaches them how to disagree, problem solve, be flexible and live with disappointment. And it teaches them how to control their impulses, which research says is the best predictor of school success.

How does this relate to getting into college?

Well, these authors write, "As admissions officers at selective colleges like to say, an entire freshman class could be filled with students with perfect grades and test scores. But academic achievement in college requires readiness skills that transcend mere book learning. It requires the ability to engage actively with people and ideas. In short, it requires a deep connection with the world." And play seems to be one of the best ways to get kids to engage with others and connect with the world in a constructive way. As they said, "They all know how to work, but some of them haven't learned how to play."

So, it appears that a play-based education really does get kids into college. As parents, we can make sure our kids have enough play in their life and we can advocate for having enough play at school and even in the classroom. Having games like Think-ets, StoryPlay Cards and Story Speller in the classroom may help get them into a great college.

To read the full article, visit

No comments: