Young children can learn more if they are allowed to play in the sand at school, rather than sitting still in formal lessons, suggests research.
Young children are used to playing and struggle to adjust, says study
A study found that five-year-olds found it difficult to adapt to the formal curriculum.
The research, from the National Foundation for Educational Research, concluded that the time spent sitting still should be reduced.
It said that children should have more access to "play-based" learning.
The study suggested that schools should "allocate resources to enable children to experience some play-based activities that give access to opportunities such as sand and water, role play, construction and outdoor learning".
The research looked at the experience of children in the first year of formal of education - who in nursery school and in reception had been used to more opportunities to play.
The survey found that young children struggled with the literacy and numeracy strategies - which are designed to ensure that children in primary school get a thorough grounding in the basics of reading, writing and maths.
"Some were worried by the workload expected in Year 1, found writing difficult and were bored by the requirement to sit and listen to the teacher."
"The amount of time children in Year 1 spend sitting still and listening to the teacher should be reduced," it said.
"Teachers should be encouraged to increase opportunities for active, independent learning and learning through play."
The findings were supported by the leader of the National Association of Head Teachers, David Hart.
"We don't want to put young children through a hot house of formal lessons. Teachers feel under enormous pressure to deliver results from day one and get their youngsters up to speed so they get the right levels at the age of seven."