To dig deeper into Why Play Matters ....

PLAY ADVOCATE ORGANIZATIONS offer lots of resource information:

Alliance for Childhood

The National Institute for Play

International Play Association

TASP (The Association for the Study of Play)

North American Reggio Emilia Alliance

NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children)   

The Strong - National Museum of Play

Boston Children's Museum

Association of Children's Museums - Playing for Keeps


AUDIO and VIDEO reference links about why play matters:


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


Peter Gray’s, American Psychologist, research professor of Boston College and author of "Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instincts to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life, TED X talk “The Decline of Play” (May 2014)  speaks to research that shows a decline of children's freedom to play and the increase in anxiety, depression, suicide in children and adolescents over the past 60 years.


The Raising of America” 2015 documentary series provides clear evidence of the stresses on families today, especially those that live in poverty, and the long term impact on the children’s learning, behavior, physical and mental health well as their parenting. The documentary also demonstrates the healing effects of “conditions in which all children have the opportunity to flourish.”  Highly regarded economists have identified the substantive return on investment when resources are dedicated to supporting children and families.  They pose the question, “Are we willing to invest for success today – or resigned to paying more for failure tomorrow?”


“The Beginning of Life”, 2016 documentary film explores the science of how babies brains develop and the impact parent engagement plays in "shaping humankind". "Every second the brain is making 700-1000 connections." "When we pay attention to the beginning of the story, we can change the whole story."


Fred Rogers (1928-2003) known as Mister Rogers, American children's television host of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood excerpts from 1994 & 1997 Fred Roger's interviews with Charlie Rose "Remembering Mister Rogers"  shares some profound reflections on what gives meaning to children and to life.  Fred Roger's on Parenting Interview in 2002 with Diane Rehm about The Mister Rogers' Parenting Book and his insight on parenting, and play and literacy. Fred Rogers Induction into the Hall of Fame in 1999 epitomizes his connection with and compassion for children and his reflections what really matters in life.  He raises the question of how can we "make goodness attractive?".  He speaks to "treating our neighbor at least as well as we treat ourselves" and "allowing that to inform everything that we (do)."


Erika Christakis book "The Importance of Being Little – What Preschoolers Really Need From Grownups" (2016) raises important questions for consideration based on her thorough research, extensive experience and deep knowledge of the importance of play for children's development. Erika is an early childhood educator with experience as former faculty member of Yale Child Study Center, Massachusetts certified teacher (PreK-2), a licensed preschool director and parent. A PBS "Connections" interview with Erika (April 8, 2016) talks about how children learn through play and what's needed to support children's learning.  Interview with Erika on The Diane Rehm Show (February 10, 2016) speaks to the "mismatched expectations" by adults that is causing distress for children and missing opportunities for learning through meaningful relationships and children's quality engagement in play.


Bev Bos, longtime preschool educator at the Roseville Community School in California, speaker, trainer, advocate for children and creating environments that support their natural development through play.  U Tube "Plays Place in Learning" is a short introduction to why play matters and followed by a video "Starting at Square One" of the importance of childhood.


Life is Good Foundation "Playmakers" program articulates "why" play is critically important for children who have had some type of adverse childhood experience (ACE). "Why We Do It" gives explanatory information about ACE's and their "Greatness" video provides an animated depiction of why play matters.


Reference ARTICLES about why play matters:


“Best Play: What Play Provisions Should Do For Children,” National Playing Fields Association, PLAYLINK, and The Children's Play Council, 2000"Best Play is about how children benefit from play play services and spaces can provide these benefits, and how they can show that they are providing them. It draws on research, theories and practices from a number of disciplines and applies it to the field of public play provision....The work is based on values and principles about children and play developed by the playwork profession."


"Seeing Children" by Deb Curtis, Exchange Magazine, November/December, 2008.  This article zeros in on how being truly present with children allows us to see children. She reminds us that "learning to see children takes time and practice" and to "meet the children's minds - not their behavior".  "A Thinking Lens for Reflective Teaching" (or Parenting) provides an outline of questions to guide our observations, reflections and understanding of children.


"Play: The Work of Lev Vygotsky" by CDM Child Development Media provides an overview of Vygotsky's understanding of the importance of play for children's development as well as the related DVD produced to illustrate it.


"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


BOOKS about play matters:


"The Ambiguity of Play" (2001) by Brian Sutton-Smith

"Babies in the Rain: Promoting Play, Exploration, and Discovery with Infants and Toddlers" (2010) by Jeff A. Johnson

"Balanced and Barefoot: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable Children" (2016) by Angela J. Hanscom

"The Case for Make-Believe: Saving Play in a Commercialized World" (2009) by Susan Linn

"Children at Play: An American History" (2008) by Howard P. Chudacoff

"Children's Play: The Roots of Reading" (2004) Editors: Edward F. Zigler, Ph.D., Dorothy S. Singer, and Sandra J. Bishop-Josef

"A Child's Work: The Importance of Fantasy Play" (2005) by Vivian Gussin Paley

"Developmentally Appropriate Play: Guiding Young Children to a Higher Level" (2010) by Gaye Gronlund

"Free Range Kids: How to Raise Self-Reliant Children - Without Going Nuts with Worry"  (2010) by Lenore Skenazy

"Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life" (2013) by Peter Gray

"The Genius of Play: Celebrating the Spirit of Childhood" (2001) by Sally Jenkinson

"The Hundred Languages of Children: The Reggio Emilia Experience in Transformation" (1993/2012) Edited by Carolyn Edwards, Lella Gandini, and George Forman

"Insights and Inspirations from Reggio Emilia: Stories of Teachers and Children from North America" (2008) Edited by Lella Gandini, Susan Etheredge,Waht a and Lynn Hill

"The Importance of Being Little – What Preschoolers Really Need From Grownups" (2016) by Erika Christakis

"Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature Deficit-Disorder" (2008) by Richard Louv

"Magic Trees of the Mind: How to Nurture Your Child's Intelligence, Creativity, and Healthy Emotions from Birth to Adolescence" (1999) by Marion Diamond, Ph.D. & Janet Hopsen

"Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs" (2010) by Ellen Galinsky

"Playful Parenting: An Exciting New Approach to Raising Children That Will Help You Nurture Close Connections, Solve Behavior Problems, and Encourage Confidence" (2002) by Lawrence J. Cohen, Ph.D.

"Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul"  (2010) by Stuart Brown, M.D., with Christopher Vaughan

"Play = Learning: How Play Motivates and Enhances Children's Cognitive and Social- Emotional Growth" (2009) by Dorothy Singer, Roberta Michnick, and Kathy Hivish-Pasek

"Play: The Foundation of Children's Learning" (2016) by Lisa Murphy

"Powerful Interactions: How to Connect with Children to Extend Their Learning" (2011) by Amy Laura Dombro, Judy Jablon and Charlotte Stetson

"The Power of Play: Learning What Comes Naturally" (2007) by David Elkind, Ph.D.

"Really Seeing Children" (2017) by Deb Curtis

"Reclaiming Childhood: Letting Children Be Children in Our Achievement-Oriented Society" (2004) by William C. Crain

"Ready to Learn: Using Play to Build Literacy Skills in Young Learners" (2010) by Ann Burke

"Together We're Better: Establishing Coactive Environments for Young Children" (1990) by Bev Boss