Research and News

 Covid-19 Pandemic: Responses and Consequences in Early Childhood Settings, by Neil Boland

Click here for the full report. Print copies are also available hereThe summary report is available in many languages here (free download).

Free play

The Guardian: Let children play. An European call for action. Read more

Video: Children at play provide a rare glimps into the imagination, ours and theirs.  A lovely exploration of human nature and society, this film takes us into an unusual outdoor nursery. With the woods as their classroom and playground, a group of small children explore their surroundings and their relationships with each other in a remarkably free and unfettered environment. Through the children’s imaginative activities and games we can see flashes of their personal and collective development, a striking example of playing as learning. 15 minutes video, posted on

Free play in Brazilian Waldorf Kindergartens  See 30

Why adults have to stop trying so darn hard to control how children play.  Article in the Washington Post by Valerie Strauss which explains why free play is important: “If children truly got hours of free play with friends every day both during school and outside of school, they would learn the essential skills of negotiation, trading, conflict-resolution, empathy, kindness, sharing, compassion, and so much more. All we need to do is stop trying so darn hard to control every outcome of every interaction between children. It is time we step back and let the children play – for this is how they’ll learn to cope in the real world” Read more

Have Children Lost their Ability to Play? Education expert Rae Pica notes that teachers often tell her that children don’t know to play anymore. In this 10 minute podcast episode of Studentcentricity, Pica interviews early childhood expert Nancy Carlsson-Paige on how to promote unstructured play in early childhood. Pica and Carlsson-Paige discuss the value of play and comment on how societal factors like media and academic pressure in the early years are impeding children’s natural inclinations to play. Listen the Podcast

Play: Children’s Default Setting. An interesting blog by Adrian Voce, writer and consultant on children’s play. While the precise nature of play remains elusive and indefinable, several academic disciplines – from evolutionary biology to developmental and depth psychology and the emergent neurosciences – each agree in their different ways that children’s play is central to who and what we are. (April 28, 2016) Read more

Being bored is good for children – and adults. This is why. Article by Teresa Belton and published on the website of the World Economic Forum. “Parents often feel guilty if children complain of boredom. But it’s actually more constructive to see boredom as an opportunity rather than a deficit. Parents do have a role, but rushing in with ready-made solutions is not helpful. Rather, children need the adults around them to understand that creating their own pastimes requires space, time and the possibility of making a mess (within limits – and to be cleared up afterwards by the children themselves).”  Download the article

We need hidden worlds. A nice illustrated blog by Laura Grace Weldon about the importance for children to create hidden places during free play. (October 15, 2013 Read more

Symbolic Play and Emergent Literacy. An article by Sandra and William Stone on the website of the International Council for Childrens Play. It might be useful for all those, who want to show, that play is actually a good preparation for formal learning. “The very nature of symbolic play (first-order symbolism) has an intimate relationship with reading and writing (second-order symbolism) in that children use similar representational mental processes in both.” (2007) Read more

What forest playground teach  us about kids and germs. Read the full article

Digital Media and Early Childhood

Digital Lives – Technology and the Future of Childhood. An outstanding manifesto written by the Chief Executive of the Save Childhood Movement, Wendy Ellyat. (April 2018). Read the manifesto.

Report from the Children’s Screen Time Action Network Conference. Read the May 2018 Newsletter from the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.

The Power of Human Touch. Article by David Brooks in the New York Times, 19.1.2018 : “It seems that the smarter we get about technology, the dumber we get about relationships. We live in a society in which loneliness, depression and suicide are on the rise. We seem to be treating each other worse. The guiding moral principle here is not complicated: Try to treat other people as if they possessed precious hearts and infinite souls. Everything else will follow.” Read more

Daily touchscreen use in infants and toddlers is associated with reduced sleep and delayed sleep onset. Article published in Scientific Reports N°7, 2017. Traditional screen time (e.g. TV and videogaming) has been linked to sleep problems and poorer developmental outcomes in children. With the advent of portable touchscreen devices, this association may be extending down in age to disrupt the sleep of infants and toddlers, an age when sleep is essential for cognitive development. Read more.

Media and Young Minds. A policy statement released by the American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) concludes that there are multiple developmental and health concerns relating to excess use of digital media including obesity and sleep disruption. This article includes very useful recommendations for care providers and parents. (November 2016)Read the article

Electronic Toys for Babies Should Be Discouraged, Concludes New Study. The study shows that despite the fact that many electronic toys are marketed as educational for babies, they are detrimental to early language development. (January 15, 2016) Read more

School Readiness

The Right Brain Develops first – Why Play is the Foundation of Academic Learning.  Article by Vince Gowmon published in January 2018 on his website. “Pushing literacy and numeracy on children before age seven may just be harmful to their little, developing brains. Without the capacity to use their academic minds in the ways that are being asked can cause children to gain what’s called “learned stupidity.” They believe themselves to be incapable and lose their natural desire to learn.” Read more

The Gift of Time? School Starting Age and Mental Health. Article by Thomas Dee from the Stanford University and Hans Henrik Sievertsen from The Danish National Centre for Social Research. “In many developed countries, children now begin their formal schooling at an older age. However, a growing body of empirical studies provides little evidence that such schooling delays improve educational and economic outcomes. This study presents new evidence onwhether school starting age influences student outcomes by relying on linked Danish surveyand register data that include several distinct, widely used, and validated measures of mentalhealth that are reported out-of-school among similarly aged children. Read more

Study finds improved self-regulation in kindergartners who wait a year to enroll. A new study on the mental health effects of kindergarten enrollment ages found strong evidence that a one-year delay dramatically improves a child’s self-regulation abilities even into later childhood. (October 7, 2015). Read more

The role of imitation in early cchildhood

Helicopter parents who put their children on ‘a pedestal’ are to blame for them still living at home at 25, according to an expert. Article by Sarah Harris for the Daily Mail, 8 December 2017 . “Professor Lancy believes the West should look at other cultures and their more ‘natural’ ways of rearing children. He said: ‘I think one of the greatest things that we’ve lost, which you become aware of in a village in somewhere like Papua New Guinea, (is that) children have learned from watching other people do stuff. ‘I mean building things, making things, working out of doors, watching adults work on the farm.‘Even before children’s attention was captured 24/7 by social media and video games, play had moved indoors. Partly for safety concerns, the overprotection issue. ‘If I were a parent (or teacher) of children now, I would make sure that they had opportunities to watch. Then even better, to pitch in, help out.’ Read more.

Imitation, Interaction and Recognition. Communication between Children and Adults in the Waldorf Kindergarten.  Article by Arve Mathisen and Frode Thorjussen from the Rudolf Steiner University College, Oslo, Norway. The authors present ideas and perspectives that may inspire an expanded understanding of imitation and a reconsideration of what is at stake in the interaction between children and adults. The argument is that Steiner’s statements regarding imitation will not lose their significance, but that an element of dialogue and response can be added and thus enrich the understanding of human and material encounters in the Waldorf kindergarten. Published in ROSE, (Research in Steiner Education) Vol 7, December 2016. Download the article 

The importance of sleep

New Study Reveals Alarming News About Toddlers Who Use Smartphones – Katina Beniaris, April 2017

Nap-dependent Learning in Infants – Almut Hupbach, Rebecca L. Gomez, Richard R. Bootzing, Lynn Nadel (Department of Psychology, The University of Arizona, USA)

Sleep Research Study Finds Daytime Naps Enhance Learning in Preschool Children –  University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA

Napping Facilitates Word Learning in Early Lexical Development  Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK

Better Ways to Learn – Tara Parker – Pope (New York Times, October 2014)

Naps Promote Abstraction in Language-Learning Infants – Rebecca L. Gomez, Richard R. Bootzin, and Lynn Nadel (University of Arizona)

Children with regular bedtimes less likely to misbehave, research shows  – Alexandra Topping (The Guardian, October 2013)

Daytime Sleep and Parenting Interactions in Infants Born Preterm  A. J. Schwichtenberg,  Thomas F. Anders, Melissa Vollbrecht, Julie Poehlmann

Sleep and Attachment in Preterm Infants – A. J. Schwichtenberg, Prachi E.Shah, Julie Poehlmann

Timely Sleep Facilitates Declarative Memory Consolidation in Infants  Sabine Seehagen, Carolin Konrad, Jane S. Herbert, and Silvia Schneider

Sleep Helps Process Traumatic Experiences – University of Zürich

Sleep, Learning and Memory – Robert Stickgold

Sleep is the New Status Symbol – Article published in the New York Times, April 9, 2017

The Purpose of Sleep? To Forget, Scientists Say – Article Published in the New York Times, February 2, 2017