The Power of Play: How Imaginative, Spontaneous Activities Lead to Healthier and Happier Children

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In modern childhood, free, unstructured play time is being replaced more and more by academics, lessons, competitive sports, and passive, electronic entertainment. While parents may worry that their children will be at a disadvantage if they are not engaged in constant, explicit learning or using the latest "educational" games, David Elkind's The Power of Play reassures us that unscheduled imaginative play goes far in preparing children for academic and social success. Through expert analysis of the research and ...

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The Power of Play: Learning What Comes Naturally

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Overview

In modern childhood, free, unstructured play time is being replaced more and more by academics, lessons, competitive sports, and passive, electronic entertainment. While parents may worry that their children will be at a disadvantage if they are not engaged in constant, explicit learning or using the latest "educational" games, David Elkind's The Power of Play reassures us that unscheduled imaginative play goes far in preparing children for academic and social success. Through expert analysis of the research and powerful situational examples, Elkind shows that, indeed, creative spontaneous activity best sets the stage for academic learning in the first place: Children learn mutual respect and cooperation through role-playing and the negotiation of rules, which in turn prepare them for successful classroom learning; in simply playing with rocks, for example, a child could discover properties of counting and shapes that are the underpinnings of math; even a toddler's babbling is a necessary precursor to the acquisition of language. An important contribution to the literature about how children learn, The Power of Play suggests ways to restore play's respected place in children's lives, at home, at school, and in the larger community. In defense of unstructured "down time," it encourages parents to trust their instincts and resist the promise of the wide and dubious array of educational products on the market geared to youngsters.

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Editorial Reviews

American School Board Journal
Elkind offers simple, practical guidance for parents and educators . . . to foster health, intelligence, and creativity in children.
Akron Beacon Journal
Every parent should read this book...[Elkind] makes a coherent, readable and...fascinating case for adults who are childhood-friendly.
Kappa Delta Pi Record
Shows parents and educators that the instinct to allow children to be children is not only right, but . . . invaluable.
Publishers Weekly
In this fascinating look at the importance of letting kids be kids, Elkind argues that "Play is being silenced." According to Elkind, a child psychologist and author of All Grown Up and No Place to Go, important, unstructured play is too often replaced in modern times by organized activities, academics or passive leisure activities such as watching television and playing video games. Elkind explains how even toys have changed: "toys once served to socialize children into social roles, vocations, and academic tool skills. Today, they are more likely to encourage brand loyalties, fashion consciousness, and group think." Elkind acknowledges that technology has its place in the classroom, but debunks computer programs marketed toward babies and preschoolers whose young brains are not yet able to fully comprehend two-dimensional representations. "Parent peer pressure" is often to blame, causing parents to engage in "hyperparenting, overprotection, and overprogramming." Media-spread fears about everything from kidnapping and molestation to school shootings and SIDS can cause parents to forget that "children can play safely without adult organization; they have done so as long as people have been on earth." With clarity and insight, Elkind calls for society to bring back long recesses, encourage imagination and let children develop their minds at a natural pace. (Jan.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Elkind (child development, Tufts Univ.; The Hurried Child: Growing Up Too Fast Too Soon) has contributed a timely book on the importance of unstructured play in the academic preparation and development of children, dispelling myths about kids being left behind if they are not submersed at an early age in organized sports and other controlled pursuits. Prescribing the trinity of play, love, and work, he shows how the integration of these elements at various stages of development, from infancy to adolescence, leads to happier, well-adjusted individuals with a greater potential for academic success. Elkind will connect with parents when he reveals that "Toys R Not Us" and argues that less is more; that children should use toys for inspiration, not distraction. This would then teach scientific curiosity and nourish concentration and attention skills. Replacing this unstructured time with formal instruction before the age of reason, he writes, only hinders motivation and creates frustration, as rote learning is anathema to critical thinking. He concludes by stating that the trinity of play, love, and work, which is successfully used in Montessori and Waldorf schools, should be the model for all education, not just early childhood programs. Highly recommended.-Julianne J. Smith, Ypsilanti Dist. Lib., MI Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780738210537
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/2007
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

David Elkind, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus at Tufts University and the author of a dozen books, including The Hurried Child and All Grown Up and No Place to Go. He lives outside of Boston and on Cape Cod.

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Table of Contents


Introduction     ix
The Changing World of Play     1
Play, Love, and Work: An Essential Trio     3
Toys Aren't Us     15
Screen Play and Iconic Literacy     37
Child Play and Parent Angst     63
Play, Learning, and Development     87
Misunderstandings About How Young Children Learn     89
Playing for a Reason: Building the Units of Math, Reading, and Science     119
It Isn't Only a Game: The Role of Play in Becoming Social     145
The Power of Play     169
Lighthearted Parenting     171
Schooling with Heart, Mind, and Body     195
Epilogue: Gifts for a Lifetime     217
Acknowledgments     219
Notes     221
Other References     227
Index     229
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2009

    Play- It's So Important to Children!

    The Power of Play: How Spontaneous, Imaginative Activities Lead to Happier, Healthier Children is a greatly written book by David Elkind. I chose this book because I was very interested in how play affects young children. I am working toward becoming a teacher for young children and someday wish to become a parent. This book has opened my eyes and will help me become a better parent and teacher. I realized through Elkind's writing that play is essential to young children's social and cognitive development. I will be sure to incorporate play into my children's daily activities. Elkind does a great job in presenting his points through his thorough research and great examples. This book is well worth reading for parents and teachers. It will completely open your eyes to the power of play!- OSU Comp Student 2009

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