The Learning Renaissance

The Value of Play Before Formal Education Starts


One of the great joys of being involved in the future of learning is that you come across a large number of well-informed and passionate people who are in possession of a significant piece of the jigsaw that goes to make the future of learning.

One of these people is Charlotte Davies who is involved in the removing hurdles to successful learning, both through the Tomatis system of aural analysis and in the wider preparation of children to become effective learning.

A key theme of her work is that children are being rushed into formal learning in schools before they are developmentally ready to access such learning. Conversely, denying children learning in play means that they are ill-equipped to cope in formal learning situations and cannot grasp the conceptual learning on offer.

The most progressive learning nations recognise this. Finland has always delayed access to formal educational settings to ensure that children have a firm developmental experience before school. In Singapore, which previously promoted ‘hothouse’ techniques of learning, there is now more emphasis on play as a foundation of learning.

In Charlotte’s words:

Early years goals need to be linked to actual child physiology. Unfortunately, we are still rushing children too fast to formal education whilst not supporting fundamental development in basic motor skills and sensory processing so that all children can achieve motor-sensory integration at 8 years+. For example we are asking children to visually process text before they can track text with two eyes, this establishes lifelong bad habits in learning such as reading with one eye.

If we want to lighten teacher loads, stop knife crime and achieve equality for all we have to make all children fit to learn so that children are not permanently trapped in poor development.

Why do we not have a PE curriculum that is age appropriate for Early Years i.e. it really needs to ensure that primitive reflexes are integrated. Why are we not offering sound therapy to those who have poor language skills? Why are we rushing to fine motor skills before children have the postural control or gross motor skill control in place to establish fine motor skills? Why are we not ensuring that all children establish motor sensory integration? If “education” is not about actual child development, what is the purpose of it really?

The proposed changes to early years settings and teacher reactions to them are outlined by Catherine Lough and Amy Gibbons in a TES article here

About educationalist04

I'm convinced we can, as a species, do much better than this if we set our minds to being much more positive and productive towards our fellow humans. The solution is learning - creating independent and autonomous learners who can problem solve, innovate and create a better more equitable and sustainable world. My books, Future Proof Your School and Re-Examining Success together with this blog, explore how better learning outcomes for all can be achieved.

One comment on “The Value of Play Before Formal Education Starts

  1. AcEd
    August 17, 2020

    Reblogged this on ace-d and commented:
    Charlotte and David are part of the future of education – well if we listen to them.

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