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.