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Einstein Never Used Flashcards: How Our Children Really Learn--and Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less
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Einstein Never Used Flashcards: How Our Children Really Learn--and Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  1,777 ratings  ·  249 reviews
Now Available in Paperback!

In Einstein Never Used Flashcards highly credentialed child psychologists, Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Ph.D., and Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, Ph.D., with Diane Eyer, Ph.D., offer a compelling indictment of the growing trend toward accelerated learning. It's a message that stressed-out parents are craving to hear: Letting tots learn through play is not onl
Paperback, 320 pages
Published August 25th 2004 by Rodale Books (first published October 3rd 2003)
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Average rating 3.94  · 
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 ·  1,777 ratings  ·  249 reviews

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Mar 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A good review/summary of early childhood education.

Reflect, Resist, Recenter
REFLECT-why are you enrolling child in certain activity, does child actually like it?
RESIST-you don't have to sign up for every (if any) class invented for children (gymboree, music class, art class, etc. PLAY = learning
RECENTER-engage in teachable moments, play with your child, BE WITH you child, recognize that children take the lead in their own learning (and need your support as they go along)

This book was recommended by the newsletter from the preschool that my 3-year-old son attends. I didn't stop reading it because it sucked, really- it was more like preaching to the choir. My kids play a lot. In the 2.5 hours my older son is in preschool (2 days a week) they only have two structured circle times- one for shape/letter/name/number recognition, and the other for story time. The rest of the time they play in centers, play outside, eat snack, and color or play with Play-Doh. We never ...more
Feb 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
This really lightened my anxiety and helped me make better use of my resources and time in my parenting approach. I think every parent or soon-to-be parent or grandparent should read this book and take it to heart. Our kids would be much happier little people if we applied the principles in our parenting and even our educating!

The book is set up very well. It is not a quick read, definitely, and may seem redundant at times, but I liked that in each chapter, I was presented with scientific studie
Jul 15, 2012 rated it liked it
This book was a good refresher for me. I read John Holt's "How Children Learn" quite awhile ago and it certainly is more detailed and engaging than this book. This book was more of a skimming over of some important areas of children's learning.

I've been particularly struggling with teaching my 5-yr old reading and math, and had actually almost purchased a few sets of flash cards just days before I came across this book. So, of course I had to read it.

I'm glad now that I didn't buy those flash c
Dec 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Every parent and teacher of children ages 6 and under should absolutely read this! The authors give information on brain science, child psychological development and how those things explain learning styles and behavior. Excellent research done for this book!
Aug 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: parenting, psychology
I wanted to read this book because there is SO MUCH pressure put on new parents to do more, teach more, have kids succeed faster and earlier than ever before. I knew all along that play was how children learned and dealt with their world, but it was nice to be reminded of that with such a well written book.

The authors go into good detail about various studies with how children learn, the certain stages that they should be learning things, and the importance on just letting kids learn.

They do m
Jun 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I nearly completely agreed with this book. I often find myself wondering if I'm doing enough to teach my kids. With all the products you can buy you feel like if your child is not reading by 2 they are already behind and you are a bad parent for not buying and teaching it to your child.

This book directly takes on such falsities and gives examples of study after study of why the power of play is more important than anything.

It also explains through research and study (as if common sense weren't
Feb 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I thought this book was going to be preaching to the choir, but I instead got a lot out of it. I learned tons about child development in terms of math, emotions, socialization, and pretend play. Many behaviors I see in my kids right now were explained. I enjoyed that research was heavily used but the writing style remained very readable. The only part I disliked was the last chapter, which seemed repetitive. I'd call this a must read for all parents of young children. I walked away with some mix ...more
Jul 24, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: parenting-books
"When we understand what really does matter to children's development and how myths mislead us, we can feel more relaxed as parents and educators and can easily ensure that our children are intellectually stimulated and socially competent" (p. 268).

"The pervasive myth in our achievement-oriented society that child's play is a waste of time is linked to the hype that parents must boost their children's intelligence. So we overschedule our children and give up on the values that we know, deep down
Adriane Devries
Jul 25, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: teaching, geek, science
Einstein Never Used Flash Cards attempts to debunk the modern myth in education and child-rearing that more knowledge, and faster, is better. Despite scientifically proven milestones of development, we as a society have in essence been rushing children past childhood and into our own “hectic, hurried, frenetic, and feverish image.” The urge to produce verifiable results in schools has thrown true learning, and the enjoyment thereof, out the window. Instead, teachers are now forced to “teach to t ...more
The Yearling House
An excellent book, based on research in child development. It explains why too many structured activities can actually be detrimental to your child and why children do not need to develop and learn faster and earlier!

What children need is actually a lot of time for just good old fashioned, unstructured play, with toys like blocks, puzzles, clay, beads and simple household objects. What they don't need are electronic song and dance toys, "learning laptops", flash cards, and DVD's that teach "rea
Feb 08, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Highly recommend this book to all parents who are concerned about whether or not their young children are going to learn enough. The short answer is - yes, if you let them play and play with them. No Leap Frog or flashcards required. All in all, a very freeing book for me. It makes me more comfortable in our "preschool isn't necessary" opinion and in our determination to limit the number and kind of toys that our kids have. Plus, there are lots of fun exercises to do with your kids at all age le ...more
Feb 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2007
I read this book for my summer Infant/Toddler Development class and really enjoyed it. The authors use child development research to show that all children really need is adults who love them, care about them, play with them, and give them the opportunity to explore at their own level and pace. Too many high pressure activities will only result in the loss of children's natural love for learning. Very wise and an important message for the middle class parents of today's young children to hear!! ...more
Feb 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: parents, teachers
Recommended to Daniel by: my wife
Confirms what I had thought about 'being a kid' and playing

Much is learned in 'play' and we (adults) do much damage to children by tightly scheduling their time, children learn better in 'unstructured' play and all things are best learned in context

Recommend to all parents, parents know the right learning method, but they (the parents) feel that their children are in competition and they feel that they can give their children a 'leg-up' by structuring their education
Jan 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I really enjoyed this book. Children are NOT little adults and shouldn't be treated as such. Nor should we try to live vicariously through them by forcing them in activites. They should play. And have positive family relationships. And in the end, they will be academically successful because they are happy and happy children learn best. And happy children make for happy adults which makes for a better society. ...more
The authors examine the current parenting pressures to create intelligent, multi-talented, prodigy children through rigorous academia, and argue that instead young children should be engaging in conversation and play.
Throughout the book, Hirsh-Pasek and Golinkoff provide scientific studies that support their argument for play. In addition, they provide prompts and activities that can easily be done at home to facilitate play and teachable moments in context. If you are rushed on time, you can r
Jul 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book's message--that kids learn through play and unstructured free time--resonated with me. That said, I could have used less repetition and less description of study after study. ...more
Aug 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An excellent book for new parents or people in early childhood education. Very useful explanations of how children develop with many practical ways or activities that parents or educators could use to encourage or gauge the behaviors that we want from our children. Highly recommended!
Jun 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Must read!
Jennifer DeJonghe
Aug 14, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The authors of this book (both with PhDs in psychology) make the case that the best way for babies and children to learn is through free and undirected play. They argue that math, reading, and language skills are naturally acquired through play and that context-based, experiential learning is superior to formal instruction for young children. The authors argue against the development of many types of so-called educational toys and television programs, and also advise against flash cards, drills, ...more
Feb 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jessica by: Missy Box
I first read this book five years before I became a parent, so I wanted to revisit it before my son got too old to try out any of the learning experiments. The premise is that children learn best when they learn through play — they retain a love of learning, learn things in context, and are able to apply their learning across multiple situations in a way we just don't see with adult-structured, rote learning. The authors share a variety of research studies to illustrate their points and provide ...more
Aug 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: New moms, pregnant moms, those interested in play, educators, preschool teachers and K teachers
Recommended to Melitsa by: Podcast
Was very excited to read this book after hearing the author talk about it in a recent parent Podcast. It did not disappoint.

Lots of factual information to sink your teeth into. I particularly like the easy to read style; the studies & authors mentioned, so you can look them up yourself. The book sets forth clearly the case for advocating early years play and how to play with your child.

Most people may think- well that's easy but trying to strike a good balance against the marketing companies i
Emily Mellow
Aug 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Refutes, as the title suggests, the need for educational materials and programming to strengthen the brains of our offspring. What they need is the ability to explore, to question and experiment, right? One thing they did say though, that surprised and stuck with me all these years, is that higher intelligence is consistently linked with kids who grew up with more toys. They thrive with variety? At first you would think it's a class thing, but they take that into account when they come up with t ...more
Sep 20, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children
The first chapter or two was slightly slow going to me, but as they started to talk more about the learning process and the studies, it got markedly more interesting.

I would have liked them to supply more information about the studies they cited, explaining the findings and the methodology in a little more detail. It felt a little like I was expected to take the studies as an appeal to authority rather than have the findings backed up with additional detail.

That said, I found the information to
Dec 17, 2009 rated it liked it
The book's main message is: Children learn naturally through play, so there is no reason to go crazy for the latest "educational" toy, program, or class to try to give your kid the edge over everyone else's kid. The authors really want to encourage parents to value childhood as a distinct period in their kids' lives, to take time to BE with their children instead of rushing them from place to place, to stop trying to make them geniuses from birth but rather let them develop naturally and accept ...more
Leandra Cate
Jul 22, 2013 rated it did not like it
I read a lot of parenting books and a lot of them make me groan and roll my eyes. This was yet another one of the groaners. I feel like they set up a strawman at the center of their thesis: the parent who is furiously ambitious and schedules every second of their child's time. Ok, where are these people? Granted, I don't move in wealthy circles, but I have never met anyone who so overschedules their child that there is no free play time. I have, however, met a lot of parents who over-TV their ch ...more
Feb 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I totally agree that PLAY=LEARNING and that my little kids need and benefit more from pretending, exploring and being with ME--than being shuttled to scheduled activities, sitting through academic lessons and being drilled by "educational" toys. I am all onboard with emotional intelligence (EQ) being more important than IQ, and that basically the most important thing you can do is to read books with your child--for the fun of it!

I do admit that about 2/3 in, I got a little bored reading all the
Nov 28, 2011 rated it it was ok
The best way for babies and children to learn is through free and undirected play. I'm just not sure why the authors need an entire book to say that. I didn't finish the book because now that I have a baby, my reading time is constantly in a tug-o-war with sleep time. I also felt like as much as the authors tried to convince me not to use flashcards to teach "ball", instead play with an actual ball, they were trying to sucker in parents to read an entire book when a simple essay would have done ...more
Emily Schmader
Apr 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: parenting
Great read for parents of young children! I appreciated all of the research references included throughout the book. The concept that children need free play is heavily backed by studies. (Despite this, our culture tends to push for structured activities and academic-based early schooling!) As a parent, I have choices over how my young children will spend their time. After reading this book, my hunches are affirmed. They need to play! =)
Jul 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Surprisingly comprehensive and not gimmicky at all. Great defense of play. Great explanations as to how children really learn to read, speak, do math, get along and more. Hopefully this will keep many families from wasting their money and their children's time on things like Baby Einstein and Leapfrog products.

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“Children with loving parents who enjoy them, play with them, and offer guidance and suggestions as they explore their environment will be healthy, emotionally well-adjusted, and psychologically advanced.” 3 likes
“Compare two mothers—Mary and Jamie—who are very similar in terms of education and income, each with 3-year-old at dinner. Child: I want bread. Mary: (Handing over bread) Here. Child: Mmmm. Mary: You want more? Child:Yes. Mary: (Handing over bread) Here. Child: I want bread. Jamie: The bread is good, isn’t it? Do you want one piece or two? Child: One, please. Jamie: (Handing over bread) Did you like the bread on your sandwich at school today? Child: Yeah, it was good. Jamie: The bread I used for your school lunch was called pumpernickel. Pumpernickel is a black bread. Did you ever have black bread before?” 3 likes
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