Dr. Kathy Hirsh-Pasek wished the world was more like a Mary Poppins movie.
Less work. More play.
The Temple University cognitive psychologist’s new book, “Einstein Never Used Flash Cards,” demonstrates that simple playing should be an integral part of a child’s learning process.
“This book is about rescuing childhood from the grips of a hurried society,” Hirsh-Pasek said, who is the director of the Infant Language Lab at the university’s Ambler campus.
Hirsh-Pasek argued that in today’s society, parents are always rushed and do not have the time to sit down and play with their children.
“We are all vessels to be filled, and our cell phones are always on and palm pilots are always running,” she said. “This has transferred from adults’ lives to children’s lives.”
Hirsh-Pasek said parents are buying too many “fancy educational tools” to boost their children’s brain development, when the real world is what children need to learn. And if Einstein never used flash cards, why should anyone else?
“Einstein was the greatest genius of the 20th century, maybe even of all time,” Hirsh-Pasek said. “He was an idol who represented genius. His parents let him travel with his own interests.”
Learning needs to be more meaningful, Hirsh-Pasek said. She also added that starting with preschool, children are taught to cram all the information they can.
“This method of learning has got to end,” she said. “We need to do learning by actually engaging in it.”
But how can a society so obsessed with instant gratification transition from one way of learning to another?
Hirsh-Pasek said parents need to follow the three Rs: Reflect, resist and re-center.
Parents should reflect on how the activities their children are engaging in are more beneficial than actual playtime, she said.
“Then we need to resist the temptations in the world around us,”
Hirsh-Pasek said, noting that parents should stop thinking faster is better.
“We don’t need expensive Band-Aids to create geniuses,” she said.
Lastly, Hirsh-Pasek said re-centering is putting playing to the test.
“Re-centering is actually playing with your child,” she said.
After all, playing is the way chilchildren learn best, she said.
Hirsh-Pasek has put the theories of her book into practice with her own children. She used “simple zero budget games” to teach simple mathematical and verbal skills when her three boys were young.
“We would always use recipes to learn numbers or play I-Spy games,”
Nina Sachdev can be reached at email@example.com.