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5 valuable productivity lessons that preschoolers can teach you

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Play is famously known as “a child’s work.” Play is the best tool children have to learn about the world and connect with the people around them—it’s the most productive way they can spend their time. And anyone who’s seen a four-year-old commit to the role of artist, engineer, or puppy-fairy-dragon knows just how much a preschooler can produce.

Children excel at their jobs, so what can they teach us about being better at ours? Here, we’ll take a look at some research on child development to see what we can learn about work from preschoolers. By following children’s lead in the following five ways, we might just find ourselves being as productive as that puppy-fairy-dragon.

In the past few decades, researchers have come to a general consensus that learning is part of children’s biology. That is, children are physiologically, psychologically, and behaviorally predisposed to learn in a way that adults are not. Anyone who’s tried to learn a foreign language as an adult understands this concept all too well.

In The Scientist in the Crib, Alison Gopnik, Andrew Meltzoff, and Patricia Kuhl describe how children instinctively pursue knowledge by actively moving around their environments, observing what’s going on around them, and taking mental notes about what they experience. As they do all this, they start developing working theories about the world.

As infants, their theories relate to the faces of family members or the repercussions of throwing sippy cups on the ground over and over and over—and over. But as they age, children begin to question bigger things (“Do all rocks come from outer space?”) and generate more complex theories (“Trees make the wind when they move their leaves”). Children’s drive to learn is the basis of everything they produce. And it’s exactly what makes them creators of such astounding—if hilarious—ideas, stories, and physical constructions.

At work, when we’re devoted to accomplishing instead of learning, we find ourselves in the position of those children who were shown what the toy does. By assuming that there’s always more to learn, we can follow the childlike drive to develop new ideas about familiar things.

Since the early 20th century, researchers have shown—time and time again—that children’s skill........

© Fast Company