The Sciences Preschool Tests Take Time Away from Play--and Learning The trend in early education is to move from a play-based curriculum to a more school-like environment of directed learning. But is earlier better? And better at what? By Paul Tullis THIS IS A PREVIEW. Buy this digital issue or subscribe to access the full article. Already a subscriber or purchased this issue? Sign In Aurora Photos On a perfect Southern California morning not long ago, a gaggle of children gathered in the backyard of a million-dollar home in an upscale Los Angeles neighborhood to celebrate the birthday of twin four-year-old girls. The host parents had rented a petting zoo for the day, and kids jumped gleefully in a bouncy castle out in the driveway. On the terrace, a few parents chatted beside an alluring spread of bagels, coffee and fruit. Most of the kids at the party attend the same preschool. The father of one child enrolled there, where tuition is $14,300 a year for half a day, was asked what he likes about it. THIS IS A PREVIEW. Buy this digital issue or subscribe to access the full article. Already a subscriber or purchased this issue? Sign In Buy Digital Issue $7.95 Add To Cart Browse all subscription options! Subscribe ADVERTISEMENT Scientific American is a trademark of Scientific American, Inc., used with permission © 2015 Scientific American, a Division of Nature America, Inc. All Rights Reserved.