Preschool lessons: New research shows that teaching kids more and more, at ever-younger ages, may backfire
Illustration by Alex Eben Meyer Ours is an age of pedagogy. Anxious parents instruct their children more and more, at younger and younger ages, until they're reading books to babies in the womb. They pressure teachers to make kindergartens and nurseries more like schools. So does the law—the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act explicitly urged more direct instruction in federally funded preschools. There are skeptics, of course, including some parents, many preschool teachers, and even a few policy-makers. What do we already know about how teaching affects learning? Developmental scientists like me explore the basic science of learning by designing controlled experiments. In the first study, MIT professor Laura Schulz, her graduate student Elizabeth Bonawitz, and their colleagues looked at how 4-year-olds learned about a new toy with four tubes. All of the children pulled the first tube to make it squeak. Why might children behave this way?
Related: Play Based Learning