If children are forced into academics too early, they could be missing out on learning skills like problem solving, developing creativity, and how to be empathetic, according to Hanne Rasmussen, head of the Lego Foundation.
There is mounting evidence that these skills are obtained through play-based learning, but many people are simply unaware of it, The Guardian reported.
The Lego Foundation wants to change that. They want to make sure parents and governments know the value of play in a child's life. Their mission statement reads: "Our contribution to the world is to challenge the status quo by redefining play and reimagining learning," and they're taking it very seriously.
The foundation is investing £4 million (approx. $5.69 million) in a "Lego professorship" at Cambridge University, as well as starting the Center for Research on Play in Education, Development and Learning. The goal is to further provide academic evidence that play is valuable to education and to figure out what practices actually work.
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Lego says five types of specific play can lead to skill development: physical, symbolic, with rules, with objects and pretense. They also define "play" as a "playful state of mind," in which the child is open to trying a variety of things and they're in a "positive flow," as Rasmussen puts it.
Rasmussen stresses that starting children in school at a very young age is not the problem as long as they're not just "sitting at a desk" all day.
"Things are changing so fast in our society so the understanding of how you gain and use content knowledge is for us much, much more important. It has to be a balance. You need skills to interact with others, to be able to seek knowledge yourself, because learnings will get outdated," she said.
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It's going to be tough to get parents and governments to change the structure of education based on a toy company's argument, but maybe the popularity of Lego around the world will at least get them to listen.
To learn more, check out: Which Countries Have The Best Education?