Take Time For Play

It might seem that preschool is a place where children ‘just play.’ Take a second look. There is much more going on.

Preschool is a busy, ever moving place that, upon first look, is a place where children just play.

There is much more going on.

Through play children learn how to be social beings: how to invite someone to join in play, how to talk things out when there’s a disagreement, how to share, how to wait a turn, how to go over to someone who is alone and ask how they are, how to be kind to animals, how to draw pictures for a friend who is sick. They practice setting the table for Shabbat, rocking the baby to sleep, and building sturdy structures.

While we know that these are important skills to learn as children grow and interact in the world, a recent article in the New York Times takes the need for these skills further. In Claire Cain Miller’s article Why What You Learned in Preschool Is Crucial at Work, Michael Horn, co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute says that,

For all the jobs that machines can now do – whether performing surgery, driving cars or serving food – they still lack one distinctly human trait. They have no social skills…machines are automating a whole bunch of these things, so having the softer skills, knowing the human touch and how to complement technology, is critical.

How wonderful that our children are learning this, and practicing this every day.

The article goes on to describe that…

…preschool classrooms look a lot like the modern work world. Children move from art projects to science experiments, to the playground in small groups, and their most important skills are sharing and negotiating with others… Work, meanwhile, has become more like preschool.

Jobs that require both socializing and thinking, especially mathematically, have fared best in employment and pay. They include those held by doctors and engineers. The jobs that require social skills, but not math skills, have also grown; lawyers and child-care workers are an example. The jobs that have been rapidly disappearing are those that require neither social nor math skills, like manual labor.

In our world of screens, it’s a good reminder that going to the park, enjoying playdates, and playing in preschool are not only fun, but may one day help to land that prize job!