The Decline of Play in Preschoolers – and the Rise of Sensory Issues

Of course, this is not the cause of every child with sensory issues – but it is worth noting.

In fact, it is before the age of 7 years — ages traditionally known as “pre-academic” — when children desperately need to have a multitude of whole-body sensory experiences on a daily basis in order to develop strong bodies and minds. This is best done outside where the senses are fully ignited and young bodies are challenged by the uneven and unpredictable, ever-changing terrain.

. . .

Preschool years are not only optimal for children to learn through play, but also a critical developmental period. If children are not given enough natural movement and play experiences, they start their academic careers with a disadvantage. They are more likely to be clumsy, have difficulty paying attention, trouble controlling their emotions, utilize poor problem-solving methods, and demonstrate difficulties with social interactions. We are consistently seeing sensory, motor, and cognitive issues pop up more and more  in later childhood, partly because of inadequate opportunities to move and play at an early age. Read the entire article at the Washington Post

Children Playing on the Beach by Mary Cassatt, 1884

2 thoughts on “The Decline of Play in Preschoolers – and the Rise of Sensory Issues

  1. I agree with the article, too, though I did not make the connection to children being unable to sit still in class. That was difficult for me even through high school, and I always assumed it was just abnormal to sit all day long in a classroom w/ no windows!

    When I started homeschooling, I was researching Thomas Jefferson Education, and I learned that children shouldn’t even be taught to sit and learn from books until they are seven and older. All of their learning should be done through play and work (like chores they can do at home). (And of course reading lots of books for fun.)

    1. Interesting about TJE . . . It seems like later schooling was a cultural norm until pretty recently. Puts me in mind of Anne of Avonlea, and Marilla’s firm insistence on following her own father’s guideline of no formal schooling before age 7. My older two had a fabulous preschool experience, but that was because their teachers understood these principles, and structured their practices accordingly. My younger kids defaulted to a later schooling experience because I was so busy with their older siblings. Their “preschool” was mostly playing outdoors and in – with lots and lots of reading aloud thrown in!

Leave a Reply