Today, a large amount of children’s time is spent on academics and test prep, screen time, and adult-directed activities squeezing out time for play both at home and at school. Yet, there is a wealth of research showing the benefits of child-directed, creative play (not to be confused with guided play or education game play) for children’s health, strength, and success.
Some benefits of child-directed play are:
Cognitive. Play greatly improves academic performance, attention, executive functioning and creative thinking.
Social and Emotional skills. Child-directed play helps children develop stress management, self-regulation, empathy, and resilience.
Physical health. During play, children move, run, climb, stretch, balance, improve coordination and build strength.
Collected Play Resources
- TED Talk: Tales of Creativity and Play by Tim Brown. At the 2008 Serious Play conference, designer Tim Brown talks about the powerful relationship between creative thinking and play — with many examples you can try at home (and one that maybe you shouldn’t).
- The Power of Play: A Research Summary on Play and Learning from Dr. Rachel E. White for the Minnesota Children’s Museum
- The Amazing Benefits of Child-Directed Play from Pop-Up Adventure Play
- The Power of Play: A Pediatric Role in Enhancing Development in Young Children from American Academy of Pediatrics
- Facts on Play from KaBOOM!
- Growth and Development: Child-Directed Play from Seattle Children’s Hospital
- The Adult Role in Child-Led Play from Nature Play
- Taking Play Seriously The New York Times article, Jan. 29, 2018
- Loose Parts Play from Inspiring Scotland
- Handbooks from Playground Ideas
- Evidence from Playground Ideas
Sunflower Play Initiative is a community outreach program of Sunflower Creative Arts, a Delray Beach based 501c3 nonprofit empowering children to be confident, creative and compassionate through Play, Nature and the Arts. We are funded by Sunflower and Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County.