The book by Kathy Hirsh-Pasek Ph.D. , Roberta Michnick Golinkoff and Diane Eyer that bears the same title as this Blog entry has received great reviews for its insights into early childhood learning. It is a book that cites a great deal of research that I found interesting and would recommend, however, with one caveat. Unless you are interested in understanding the details of the research you can skip the research part of each chapter and go right to the conclusions. I had a difficult time getting through the book and in all honesty did not finish it.
The most important message of this book is in its title. The title makes you stop and think about what a young Einstein’s childhood would have been like. Not at all like what the various marketers of baby brain enrichment products would have us believe. According to several biographical sources he took violin and piano lessons and built models and mechanical devices for fun. In the 1880’s and 1890’s I am sure he spent a lot of time playing outdoors as well (no TV’s, DS’s, TiVo’s, etc.).
We all want little Einstein’s and there has been a social movement to try to cram as much information into our children at an early age as possible. Thanks, I believe, to this interest in creating “smarter” children, there is a growing amount of research studying how we learn at the earliest stages of our lives. All of the research that I have read indicates that quality brain development at the earliest stages occurs as we interact with our physical environment and other people. In other words, play.
In the interest of keeping these entries short, I will share more information on play in the next post.