Defending the Early Years is a nonprofit whose mission is "to work for a just, equitable, and quality early childhood education for every young child, by informing educators, administrators, and parents about how children develop and learn best and advocating for the active, playful, experiential approaches to learning informed by child development theory and evidence-based research." DEY has a new podcast hosted by Kisha Reed and the first episode is such a thoughtful conversation about young children."Play is the brain's natural way of learning." Guest Suzanne Axelsson introduces the new term she coined -"Original Learning" - which she uses to emphasize the importance of play and to push back on the widespread over-emphasis on academic facts. Paraphrasing her a bit: "Through play and time, children get to experience how to connect facts, their creativing and imagination, their joy... There are essential threads that can be used in both play and teaching: Wonder. Curiosity. Joy. Knowledge. Imagination, Interaction, Risk, Time, Reflection and Listening." This episode is rich with so much more!
Talking Play and Imagination with Peter Gray - interview by Rob Hopkins. Read the transcript or listen; (about 45 minutes); it's fascinating. Play is powerful; we need it and Dr. Gray is involved with some organizations that are working to bring free play and freedom back to children.
Time and Freedom - an essay by Family and Home Network's executive director, Cathy Myers, about the decision she and her husband made to have their son try preschool—and then drop out. She writes about how they reflected on their observations of their children and their own basic values, including the freedom to be creative and independent thinkers. Throughout their childhood, their children (now adults), had extended periods of time to play, to dream, to work on their own projects.
Anji Play - "The Anji Play approach is supported by a growing scientific consensus that self-determined, True Play is the best way for children to learn about the world, themselves, and others."
The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University offers lots of great information online, including short videos about early child development and the importance of two-way interactions. Play is healing and wonderful for all ages - and especially important for building healthy brains, starting in infancy. Here's a playful reminder: Building Babies' Brains Through Play
The Case for Make Believe: Saving Play in a Commercial World by Susan Linn. Dr. Linn writes: "[theory is] an amazing way of understanding the links between play, creativity, and health. ...I'm hoping that if people really understand the hows and whys of creative play they'll understand how important it is. ...And they'll ensure that children have time and space to play in ways that nurture imagination and creative thinking. ...And they will stop bombarding children with prefabricated entertainment that requires only that they observe or react rather than actively engage." The author started creating puppets as a child, worked with Fred Rogers on his show Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, and went on to a career as a psychologist at Judge Baker Children's Center and Harvard Medical School. This inspirational book is packed with information about the importance and the power of play. Read more about this book.
Attachment Play: How to solve children’s behavior problems with play, laughter, and connection by Dr. Aletha Solter. As the author explains, play can help not only with solving behavioral problems but also prevent problems, foster cooperation and increase happiness. This is a great resource for any parent (or grandparent) looking for guidance and ideas about playing with children. Don’t worry—no one is suggesting that you need to spend hours a day playing with your child. Let this book inspire you to play a little more. Read it to gain insight into the power of play and learn some guiding principles from an expert who has helped parents and children for decades. The rewards will be worth it! Exercising your play muscles will bring more laughter and joy to everyday life. It will also prepare you to help your child through difficult situations. Play is essential for children! Kids play alone, with siblings, friends—and with their parents. Read more about the book.
Playful Parenting by Lawrence J. Cohen - "Through the practice of Playful Parenting - joining children in their world, focusing on connection and confidence, giggling and roughhousing, reversing the roles and following your childs lead - you will learn how to deal effectively with sibling rivalry and other tricky problems, and how to rethink your ideas about discipline and punishment."
Play Scotland - a nonprofit dedicated to play. They offer many resources!
Playground Ideas for 0-3 year olds. Practical ideas for designing playgrounds that work for children aged 0-3 and their caregivers. If you have a backyard there might be an idea or two in here you could use. Emphasis on the importance of play and the need to make an attractive place for caregivers, too.
Free to Learn by Peter Gray, PhD. A great observer of children and advocate for play and freedom, Dr. Peter Gray also writes a blog on Pyschology Today - see his post: How to Ruin Children’s Play: Supervise, Praise, Intervene (how to enjoy, not destroy, children's play).
Teacher Tom - Teacher Tom blogged daily while he was teaching at a parent cooperative preschool and he wrote a couple of books, sharing his thoughtful way of building relationships with young children, enabling them to play and learn. In Summer 2020 he co-hosted The Play First Summit - an online, international gathering of play advocates from around the world, More than 70,000 participants from around the world soaked up hope and inspiration. May every child have the opportunity to play, grow and learn in freedom.
Rethinking Childhood - Tim Gill, an independent scholar, says: "Children and young people have the potential to be more resilient, responsible, capable and creative than we give them credit for. Yet their lives are becoming ever more scheduled, controlled and directed." Here are some of his thoughts on playgrounds and risk.