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Last week, The NYTimes unwittingly provided an example of how bad education policy is made. A front-page article trumpeted “Free play or flashcards? A new study nods to more rigorous preschools.” The study’s author, Bruce Fuller, denigrated play.' I guess the Times’ editorial board doesn’t read this blog. Too bad for them. They would have learned more by reading Froebel than by reading this latest study. Decades of research demonstrate that an emphasis on play in the early years provides long-lasting academic and social benefits. Young children’s brains are not ready for the abstract thinking that direct instruction of “academic” content requires. Children use play to establish the foundation for abstract learning. Does “academic” preschool helpschildren learn better? No — as the authors themselves admit. They state that they did not follow children in this study past kindergarten.