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Play First, Work Later?

Something is missing from most early childhood and elementary school curricula, according to a growing number of educators, psychologists, and scientists: play time.

The New York Times uncovered a growing movement to restore play time to school days. Studies, such as one by the Kaiser Family Foundation finding that children spend more than seven daily hours looking at a screen, suggest that "the culture of play in the United States is vanishing," according to the Times. This past October, more than 50,000 people flocked to Central Park for what the Times called a "giant play date," sponsored by the Play for Tomorrow coalition and National Science Foundation. At the Ultimate Block Party, kids and parents learned about the educational value of games and activities like I Spy and sidewalk chalk.

Play-based curricula teaches kids to "take turns, delay gratification, negotiate conflicts, solve problems, share goals, acquire flexibility, and live with disappointment," wrote early childhood teacher Erika Christakis and Harvard professor Nicholas Christakis, in a recent op-ed on CNN.com.

According to the Christakis', "When we deny young children play, we are denying them the right to understand the world."

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