Play is the Way

Play is the Way – a book about young children’s education – is currently making huge waves across Scotland. Published on October 31st 2020 to great acclaim from a wide range of readers (including political commentators, academics, early years practitioners and parents) it’s since been in such high demand that it had to be reprinted twice within the first month.

The writer and broadcaster Lesley Riddoch described Play is the Way as ‘a brilliant exercise in blended learning about the subject – with engaging stories, sharp science and critical analysis all in one short volume’, while Jackie Brock, CEO of Children in Scotland commented, ‘In years to come, when Scotland considers with pride its early years approach, we will point to this book to understand how we achieved it.’

In response to this enthusiastic reception, the Upstart Scotland movement (which commissioned and produced Play is the Way from its Edinburgh base) set up a crowd-funding campaign to buy and send copies to prominent Scottish policy-makers. Within three weeks supporters had raised enough to send Play is the Way as a Christmas present to every MSP and local authority Director of Education, as well as many other influential figures.

Upstart now has high hopes that Play is the Way will help transform the early educational landscape in Scotland, by introducing a kindergarten stage for three- to seven-year-old children, similar to the successful early years provision in Finland and Sweden, and based on positive relationships and play-based learning.

Science now tells us that active, social, self-directed play (as often as possible outdoors in green places) is essential for young children’s physical, emotional, social and cognitive development. Now that 21st century culture has eroded opportunities for most children to engage frequently in this sort of play, it’s up to Scotland’s educational system to reinstate it at the heart of early childhood.

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