The Wall Street Journal:
Any preschool teacher will tell you that young children learn through play, and some of the best known preschool programs make play central, too. One of the most famous approaches began after World War II around the northern Italian city of Reggio Emilia and developed into a world-wide movement. The Reggio Emilia programs, as well as other model preschools like the Child Study Centers at Berkeley and Yale, encourage young children to freely explore a rich environment with the encouragement and help of attentive adults.
An April study in the journal Developmental Psychology by Zi Sim and Fei Xu of the University of California, Berkeley, is an elegant example of a new wave of play research. The researchers showed a group of 32 children, aged 2 and 3, three different machines and blocks of varying shapes and colors. The researchers showed the children that putting some blocks, but not others, on the machines would make them play music.
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