Play is necessary for our survival as human beings. It’s fundamental to our relationships, our development, our capability to learn, our ability to innovate, and to our success in all areas of life and even to the health of society.

The following quotes provide just a sampling of the growing advocacy for play today, in light of the neuroscience research that validates the critical need for play for children’s healthy development and the increasing concerns regarding the push down of academics into preschool and kindergartens, elimination of recess in many schools, technology uses and impact, and the lack of time or opportunities for children to play.

Reference information and links regarding the quotes listed below and more can be found on the Reference page.



Stuart Brown’s, M.D., book "Play - How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul",  and his TED talk "Play is more than just fun"  illuminates the importance of play for children and adults: 

“Neuroscientists, developmental biologists, psychologists, social scientists, and researchers from every point of the scientific compass now know that play is a profound biological process. It has evolved… to promote survival. It shapes the brain and makes (us) more adaptable.”

 “It fosters empathy and makes possible complex social groups.”

“Play lies at the core of creativity and innovation.”

"Play is how we are made, how we develop and adjust to change….But in the end the most significant aspect of play is that it allows us to express our joy and connect most deeply with the best in ourselves, and in others.”

 “It energizes us and enlivens us. It eases our burdens. It renews our natural sense of optimism and opens us up to new possibilities.”

“Play is fun, but it’s anything but trivial. It’s a basic biological drive as integral to our health as sleep or nutrition... Play … is the single most significant factor in determining our success and happiness.”        

Peter Gray’s TED X talk “The Decline of Play” (May 2014):

“Play… is nature’s means of ensuring that mammals and young human beings, acquire the skills that they need to develop successfully into adulthood.”

“Play is where children learn they are in control of their own life; when we take that away we don’t give them a chance to learn how to control their own life. Play is where they learn to solve their own problems and to learn the world is not so scary after all. Play is where they learn to get along with peers and see from other points of view and practice empathy.”

“It’s the self-directed aspect of play that gives it its educative power.


The following quotes further reinforce the role play can have in shaping the future trajectory of the health and well being of children, families, and our communities. 


“When (we) pay attention to the beginning of the story, (we) can change the whole story.”       

“The Beginning of Life”, 2016 film

“Research provides more and more evidence of the positive effects that well-developed play has on various areas of child development, such as children’s social skills, emerging mathematical ability, mastery of early literacy concepts, and self-regulation.”                         

“Assessing and Scaffolding Make-Believe Play” by Deborah J. Leong and Elena Bodrova, Young Children, January 2012, National Association for the Education of Young Children

"In play a child always behaves beyond his average age, above his daily behavior; in play it is as though he were a head taller than himself."

"It's incorrect to conceive of play as an activity without purpose...creating an imaginary situation can be regarded as a means for developing abstract thought."

"A child's greatest achievements are possible in play, achievements that tomorrow will become her basic level of real action."

Lev Vygotsky, Russian Psychologist, contributor to education pedagogy of development, learning, and teaching

“Play can be the long-sought bridge back to that deep emotional bond between parent and child. Play, with all its exuberance and delighted togetherness, can ease the stress of parenting. Playful Parenting is a way to enter a child's world, on the child's terms, in order to foster closeness, confidence, and connection."

"Playful Parenting", Lawrence Cohen

“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning.  Play is really the work of childhood."

"When we treat children's play as seriously as it deserves, we are helping them feel the joy that's to be found in the creative spirit.  It's the things we play with and the people who help us play that make a great difference in our lives.”

Fred Rogers, American children's television host, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood


“Community play opportunities form part of the glue, that brings families and communities together….  Play knows no racial differentiation.” 

“Best Play: What Play Provisions Should Do For Children,” National Playing Fields Association, 2000

“…play deprivation is a kind of emotional and multisensory starvation…Play is part of our original equipment, but it has to be nurtured to develop.  Normally we play.  When we don’t, something has gone very, very wrong, and nonplayers will suffer a number of effects.” 

          Dr. Stuart Brown, Founder, The National Institute for Play

“Play is the fundamental building block of human cognition, emotional health, and social behavior.”

"Playful learning is embedded in relationships and in all things meaningful to children."

"Play is a behavior which requires a healthy habitat to thrive."

“The loss of children’s learning habitat – a habitat that includes both the ability and the opportunity to explore and connect – is a real threat to our society’s future.”

“The evidence actually suggests that we should shift more resources and attention to what goes on at home – especially for parents who may need support to raise a healthy child.”                                            

 "The Importance of Being Little – What Preschoolers Really Need From Grownups", Erika Christakis