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The Study of Play (April 2019): Children and Play

By Charles Kroncke and Ronald F. White

Children and Play

Study of childhood play can be broken out into five main areas: childhood education, playground design, parenting, games and sports, and toys. The next several sections offer resources on these particular subjects.

There are many ongoing work-play debates, especially over the amount of time, energy, and resources that students (of ages ranging from five to seventeen) ought to expend “working” on academic pursuits versus “playing.” Also debated is the role teachers and administrators ought to play in designing or regulating children’s play in classrooms or on school playgrounds. And what is the value of teaching physical education or school sports? What is the value of teaching “fun”-directed courses such as art and music?

Among the books addressing these critical questions are A Mandate for Playful Learning in Preschool: Presenting the Evidence, by Kathy Hirsh-Pasek et al., and Olivia Saracho’s An Integrated Play-Based Curriculum for Young Children. Also very useful is Edward Miller and Joan Almon’s Crisis in the Kindergarten: Why Children Need to Play in School. Richard Louv has been an advocate for reeducating children to respect nature in the virtual age. His Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder and The Nature Principle: Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age (originally subtitled “Human Restoration and the End of Nature-Deficit Disorder”) are valuable commentaries on the current state of childhood play.