The Importance of Play

Why play? From the satisfaction of breaking a sweat to the surprise of imagination, play teaches us to be human. In fact, societies depend on our ability to “play well together”.

Through play, children discover the joy of physical activity. They learn the social and emotional skills they will use in the classroom, in the workplace, and in life.

Play is one of the most important ways in which children learn.

Jack Shonkoff

Director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University

Why Play Matters in Schools

Play is especially important in schools. The American Academy of Pediatrics notes,

“Recess serves as a necessary break from the rigors of concentrated, academic challenges in the classroom. But equally important is the fact that safe and well-supervised recess offers cognitive, social, emotional, and physical benefits that may not be fully appreciated when a decision is made to diminish it. Recess is unique from, and a complement to, physical education—not a substitute for it.”

At Playworks, we believe that every child deserves the opportunity to play, every day.

What Gets In the Way of Play

When you think of recess, do you remember laughing, playing, and having fun? Or do you remember sitting on the sidelines, getting in fights, and waiting for the bell?

For many students, playtime is anything but playful.

  • Children who feel excluded or who do not know the rules play less with their peers. They have fewer opportunities for physical activity and social development.
  • Playground lessons are priceless, but kids need strategies for success. When play is too unsafe or when conflicts escalate, kids miss out on fun—and learning opportunities.
  • Children play together outside school less than they once did. By learning games and having time to play at school, kids are able to explore creativity and leadership.

The Role of Educators

Thankfully, educators have the power to shape play environments that bring out the best in kids.

Playworks helps schools and youth organizations create a place on the playground for every child to feel included, be active, and build valuable social and emotional skills. Learn about what we do and our impact over the past two decades.


What We Do