Move away from the idea that play and learning are different things.
One of Christakis's most stressed arguments is that play and learning should be looked at as things that go hand in hand — "playful learning," she calls it. Science tells us that experience-based, exploratory, creative, and imaginative kinds of play are directly linked to strong academic and cognitive outcomes. For example, building a ramp with blocks and sending cars down it supports mathmatical thinking, engineering, and measuring. Having a child sit to fill out an alphabet worksheet doesn't engage their mind or translate to learning in the same way as play does.
She says, "I think parents can really take some comfort — no matter what their child's early learning environment is like — in knowing that they really can create a play-based environment for their child that is not in opposition to learning goals, but is going to produce the outcomes that we want."