Foong Kwin Tan, a Montessori-certified teacher holding a Masters in early child education, pulled ideas from several infant and child experts of note into a slim book for parents focusing on the importance of experiential learning for young children. Her information is supported with science, plenty of examples, and boxes sensibly parsing down relevant educational philosophies (Montessori, Piaget, Lev Vygotsky, Urie Broffenbrenner). The result of following her advice, she posits, will be resilient, responsible children who excel in independent, creative thought.
Tan feels that typical school environments are developmentally inappropriate for children: she presents researchers’ findings that young children learn self-regulation, resilience, empowerment, and problem-solving, in addition to social skills, from the process of playing. She encourages parents to find teachers for young children who are able to communicate even difficult subject matter through play-based activities.
There’s no doubt that children could benefit from parents’ mindful consideration of Tan’s suggestions: for example, though we all rely on technology, she issues the sage but frustrating imperative to avoid exposing children under six to screen culture. Tan’s approach could require a lifestyle change or two: unplugging the television, parsing out computer time, offering many more materials and opportunities for creative play, and spending much more time outdoors.
Tan utilizes concise language, bullet points, and salient headings to aid readers’ assimilation of the large amount of information within. Ultimately, her advice is concerned with helping children grow into capable adults. To that end, she counsels: “If your child had made a poor decision, don’t fish him out of it or you’d [sic] probably have to do it for the rest of his life. While the stakes are small, let him bear the consequence…”
Readers will benefit from the encyclopedic crucial knowledge she has managed to fit in under 200 pages. This manual is cool stuff indeed, immensely readable and relatable, and a great book for any parent or early childhood teacher to reflect on.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.