Letter: Let the children play
To the Editor:
As a family physician of 40 years caring for infants and young children, I read with consternation the photo caption on Tuesday's front page about a kindergarten teacher carrying in math textbooks for her students. I understand the importance of keeping up with the worldwide tech requirements, but it seems we are not allowing our youngest children (including pre-schoolers), the time for enjoyable and constructive play.
A review article in Pediatrics (1/07, Volume 119) detailed how the "increased focus on the fundamentals of academic preparation" is limiting our children "from enjoying the full developmental assets associated with play." During non adult-guided play, they learn how to interact with others, share, and communicate their needs constructively (to mention just a few). Ideally parents would provide the opportunities at home, but with many, the family's lifestyle has become increasingly harried. It is far easier to measure an objective parameter, than the more subtle (but just as important) progress in social areas.
My belief is that our children are pushed into maturing more rapidly than is healthy, and I have seen the unpleasant behavioral aftermath too often. I'm confident our educational system will provide them with the needed academic skills at a future more age-appropriate time. For now, lets just let them be children. Let them play!
Arunas Budnikas, MD
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