I thought I would take a moment to iterate that along with all the crafts, games, toys, and silliness I present on my blog, there is learning. Through play and exploration, young children are learning about themselves and the world around them. They are continually building upon their repertoires of physical, emotional, social, and academic skills. Play time can have purpose and still be fun.
As a more concrete example of these skills, here is a list of early childhood performance indicators created by the state of Tennessee. Most parents and educators do not start thinking about curricular standards until at least kindergarten, yet most of us would admit that learning really begins at home.
The way most state standards are designed is for each grade level to recap and build upon what was taught/learned in the previous grade level, an idea known as scaffolding. By making ourselves aware of these prerequisite skills our children will need before starting school, we parents can further ensure that we are giving our children the best starts possible and setting them up for success.
I do not present these standards from a political standpoint or to start a debate about the pros and cons of holding all children to the same academic standards. Rather, I present them as a tool that parents can add to their parental tool belts. Some tools are more useful than others, depending on the job to be done and the person who wields the tool. Take this information and use it (or don't) as you will. :)