Reposted from Reuters:
Training teachers to promote structured play among kindergarteners yields improved reading, vocabulary and math scores that persist into first grade, according to a new study. The technique, called ‘Tools for the Mind,’ seemed to be particularly effective in high-poverty schools, the authors write.
“The active ingredient is children are taking responsibility for their own learning,” said Clancy Blair of the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at New York University, who led the study. “The key aspect is children planning what they’re going to do and making a plan for it and executing that plan,” Blair said. “They’re practicing all the cognitive skills that are important for learning.”
For the two-year study, researchers divided 79 kindergarten classrooms with a total of 759 children into two groups. Forty-two classrooms were directed to incorporate the Tools for the Mind program, and 37 continued with their standard teaching practices. Researchers assessed students’ attention, speed of processing and other measures of academic ability twice a year, as well as testing their saliva samples for levels of stress hormones.