Carmela Malkin Kuhn, Preschool Director

More Play – less Pressure = a Happy Preschooler


I have had the good fortune of attending several workshops led by Lillian Katz, an international leader in Early Childhood Education from the University of Illinois who has been instrumental in grounding me in my belief that preschool is a place for learning through play. So many studies over the decades show the effectiveness of play based education, but for the most part it has been ignored, up till now that is.

It seems that we are finally coming to terms with the fact that placing pressure on preschoolers to academically achieve is producing outcomes that are unhealthy. These academically structured early childhood centers (some which include tutors) are reporting increased incidents of aggressive behaviors and bullying in preschool and kindergarten and have drawn a direct link to the stress level these children experience in these settings.

A recent study at Yale University revealed from a survey of almost 4,000 preschool teachers that three and four year old children were being expelled at three times the national rate for K-12 students, four times more boys than girls. The data showed a correlation between the amount of dramatic play in preschool and expulsion rates. It was determined that less play resulted in a higher expulsion rate.

While these reports are upsetting to me, I also feel that what we achieve at the Sarfan Center is truly in line with what Ms. Katz had in mind. I am delighted that our school is filled with children whose parents understand the importance of play in preschool and entrust us with their children’s early development.

Yes, we do an enormous amount of learning at the preschool, but it is done in a developmentally appropriate way which involves no stress or pressure, thus making for a very happy well rounded early learner.

I believe Lillian Katz would be quite impressed with our school, our amazing children and their teachers. Also, she would be impressed with our parents who realize the importance of play, who know that we offer their children an early childhood education foundation that prepares them for a lifetime of learning, hopefully without any pressure and uniquely with the Jewish values that they will carry for life.