Loss of play in early schooling lowers results: visiting expert

    Toronto Waldorf School hosts 15th annual early childhood conference

    THORNHILL, ON, April 8 /CNW/ - "Children that spend more time getting
instruction and preparing for tests in kindergarten are getting lower
academics results in later years than children whose early focus is creative
play," states Joan Almon, director of the US Alliance for Childhood. Almon is
also the keynote speaker at this year's Gateways conference where she will
share her research with parents and educators of young children.
    While no longer working directly for an educational institution, Almon's
advocacy work for the Alliance for Childhood gives implicit support to the
long-practiced methods of Waldorf education. Toronto Waldorf School, as with
all Waldorf schools, doesn't give tests or homework in early childhood
classes, focusing rather on social integration, physical and language
development and outdoor play. Emphasis is given to fostering the faculty of
imagination which later leads to creative thinking.

    Long-term research casts doubt on tightly held assumptions

    A key component of Almon's speeches will be indications of her recently
published research: "...the children who had played excelled over the others
in a host of ways. They were more advanced in reading and mathematics and they
were better adjusted socially and emotionally in school. They excelled in
creativity and intelligence, oral expression, and "industry."" (Find the full
report at http://tinyurl.com/KGresearch)
    To compliment Almon's research-oriented approach, Toronto Waldorf School
aims to make the conference as practical as it will be academic. Many of the
workshops offered will explore this topic in practical ways that parents and
educators can adopt: Rekindling our Love of Play, Developing Healthy Senses,
Media & the Child and 20 more. Childcare is offered and an organic vegetarian
lunch is included.

    Toronto Waldorf School, currently celebrating 40 years, is a leader in
providing play-based early childhood education, as well as integrated
academics in Grades 1-12. TWS creates an educational experience that inspires
students to evolve into creative thinkers who are personally centred and
strongly connected to humanity and the environment.
    Waldorf education, founded in 1919, is one of the world's largest and
fastest growing school movements. Based on a rich, age-appropriate and
integrated curriculum, it has been recognized by the United Nations as a
successful and inspiring model of nurturing, developmentally appropriate
education. There are more than 2500 Waldorf schools and kindergartens in over
60 countries, including 25 in Canada.

    To speak with Joan Almon about the importance of play and the relevant
research, email her at joan.almon@verizon.net. For media inquiries regarding
Toronto Waldorf School approach to academics in the early years, contact Todd
Royer, Faculty Chair (contact info below), or visit TorontoWaldorfSchool.com.

For further information:

For further information: Todd Royer, Faculty Chair, (905) 881-6137 x
308, troyer@torontowaldorfschool.com, 9100 Bathurst St, Thornhill, ON, L4J
8C7, Phone (905) 881-1611, Fax (905) 881-6710

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