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DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Introduction: Social Play We humans are social creatures. We are driven to connect and interact with each other. Our brains need social contact. Social skills are skills we will use throughout the entirety of our lives, yet in many early learning settings, play—the primary way young children practice and hone skills—is disappearing and being replaced with an unrelenting rush to early academics in preparation for school and the high-pressure, high-stakes testing that drives it. Social skills are vital because they help kids prepare not only for all the human-to-human interactions to come in their lives but also for school. Importantly, not only do cognitive and social skills reinforce one another, but social skills can actually lead to better cognitive skills, especially for children with average cognitive abilities. Children with advanced social skills may be better at getting additional information from teachers, understanding others’ points of view, cooperating with teachers and peers, and displaying initiative in the classroom. A large body of research documenting the predictive value of preschool children’s social maturity for later school success indicates that school readiness should not be assessed just in terms of cognitive attainments but also in terms of social attainments that forecast children’s adjustment to formal schooling. —Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, Laura E. Berk, and Dorothy G. Singer, A Mandate for Playful Learning in Preschool: Presenting the Evidence Ask a few kindergarten teachers: most likely, they’ll say they are more con- cerned with social skills than academic skills. 1 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL