While doing a research paper for one of my early childhood education classes, I found several articles by David Elkind, a child development professor who has written several books. You can learn more about him from the following link. His books are listed there as well. I think this quote summarizes my thinking in regards to early childhood education. For years, children have been learning by playing and practicing practical life skills. If it works, why change it now?
"In a developmentally appropriate classroom, children are busy taking care of plants and animals, experimenting with sand and water, drawing and painting, listening to songs and stories, and engaging in dramatic play. It is hard to believe that these young children learn more from work sheets than they do from engaging in these age-appropriate activities. In the end, there is no solid research demonstrating that early academic training is superior to (or worse than) the more traditional, hands-on model of early education. Why take the risky step of engaging in formal academic training of the young when we already know what works?"
Much too Early by David Elkind