Research and Advocacy


Alliance for Childhood builds, strengthens and empowers advocacy networks for play to improve the lives of children.

We envision a world in which stress is reduced in children through:

  • increased child-inititated and intrinsically motivated free play,
  • reduced screen time and high stakes testing, and
  • increased unstructured, active play opportunities.

We work to support children’s healthy development, love of learning, and joy in living. 


New Publication!

Improving Children’s Health through Play:

Exploring Issues and Recommendations


By Joan Almon

A Collaboration between Alliance for Childhood


US Play Coalition


This research-based paper explores the linkages between play and current trends in childhood obesity, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and bone development.


Recommendations are put forth to support the growing public awareness that play is essential to children’s health and well-being.

To download the pdf file, click here.



Playing It Up—With Loose Parts, Playpods, and Adventure Playgrounds

Edited by Joan Almon


This beautiful and inspirational Alliance for Childhood publication offers insights about child-initiated, creative play shared by play activists and leaders from across the U.S.


Over 20 play initiatives are described, with dozens of photographs illustrating the power of play - including the use of open-ended play materials in schools, parks, nature centers, and adventure playgrounds.

To download the pdf file, click here.

To order your copy, click here.



New Video!



Check out this joyful video of children engaged in the deep art of play at play:groundNYC, a vibrant new adventure playground on Governors Island near the Statue of Liberty. The video portrays child-initiated, creative play supported by a staff of dedicated playworkers.

Produced by Alliance for Childhood and directed by Amanda Wilder.

Click here to view the video.



The Rise of Play!


Monday, February 6, 2017 @ 6 pm


 Room 6304.01, 6th Floor

 The Graduate Center

 City University of New York

 365 Fifth Avenue


The Children’s Environments Research Group at the Center for Human Environments cordially invites you to a panel and open forum on the growing movement to improve children’s play opportunities in North America.

Featuring a premier screening of a brief video about play:groundNYC, produced by Alliance for Childhood and directed by Amanda Wilder. Followed by discussion panel:

 Roger Hart, C.E.R.G.

 Reilly Wilson, play:groundNYC & C.E.R.G.

 Saundra Norton, Child Development Institute, S.L.C.

  Joan Almon, Co-founder of Alliance for Childhood

Event co-sponsored by Alliance for Childhood, play:groundNYC, North American Adventure Play Association, and Child Development Institute of Sarah Lawrence College.

Refreshments provided by Alliance for Childhood to celebrate our new publication, “Playing It Up – With Loose Parts, Playpods, and Adventure Playgrounds."

Space is limited, please RSVP to



New Video!

Pop Up Play and Loose Parts


Alliance for Childhood provided support for this wonderful video featuring the Providence PlayCorps pop up play and loose parts program.

Click here to view the video and watch the joyfulness and creativity unfold!



Reading Instruction in Kindergarten:
Little to Gain and Much to Lose


Alliance for Childhood offers this powerful report, authored in partnership with our friends at Defending the Early Years, on the implications of the Common Core reading requirements for kindergarten.

Click here to download the report.

Click here to view the press release video.



Adventure: The value of risk in children's play

 by Joan Almon


This booklet is an exploration of why children need adventurous play and how they successfully cope with it through risk-assessment.

Click here to download the book.

Click here to order your printed copy.



Growing Interest in Adventure Play


Recently there has been a lot of media attention on adventure play, especially because of Hanna Rosin's March 2014 Atlantic article about The Land and other adventure playgrounds. Click here to see a roundup of articles and interviews reflecting the growing interest in adventure play.


In October 2013, Joan Almon visited The Land, the adventure playground in Wales. The BBC ran a piece about it, which can be viewed here.



Upcoming Events


November 5-8 in Dallas, Texas: The Alliance for Childhood will have a presence at the NAEYC Annual Conference. Look for us at Booth 942. We will also be participating in three panels. Hope to see you there!

November 14-15 in New York City: The eighth annual Wonderplay Conference will take place at the 92nd St. Y. Alliance co-founder Joan Almon will be presenting two workshopsClick here for the flier.

Feb. 1-3, 2015 in Brussels: The International Council for Children's Play will hold its 27th international World Play Conference.

February 15-18 in Clemson, South Carolina: Conference on the Value of Play This annual event is sponsored by the U.S. Play Coalition.

March 5-8 in Washington, DC: ACEI will be hosting the Institute for Global Education Diplomacy. Alliance Director Linda Rhoads will be leading a session on effective advocacy strategies.



Recent Publications


Facing the Screen Dilemma:

Young Children, Technology and Early Education 

Co-authored by the Alliance for Childhood, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, and Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Children’s Entertainment

This guide is designed to help educators and parents make informed decisions about whether, why, how, and when to use screen technologies with young children. Just because products are marketed as “educational” doesn’t mean they are. How do we best support children’s growth, development, and learning in a world radically changed by technology? Download your free copy here.

A Facebook page has been set up devoted to discussing the ideas in Facing the Screen Dilemma. Visit the Facebook page here.

Now available: Spanish translation of Facing the Screen Dilemma

Also available: German translation of Facing the Screen Dilemma


A Research-Based Case for Recess

by Olga S. Jarrett

Over the past 20-25 years, recess has been cut back severely in many schools. Yet research points to the many benefits of this important part of the day for children's healthy development. Download the article here.


The Crisis in Early Education

 A Research-Based Case for More Play and Less Pressure

by Joan Almon and Edward Miller 

This four-page article succinctly makes the case for play-based education.



Recent Talks Online


Encouraging Adventure:

Redefining Success to Include Risk

On May 8, 2014, Alliance co-founder and director of programs Joan Almon gave a talk at the Child Study Center of Wellesley College. The talk is now available to view online


Is the Common Core Developmentally Appropriate?

Joan Almon was interviewed in February by Aggie Sung Tang of Princeton TV's Education Roundtable on the Common Core and early childhood education. View the show here.


Dec. 11 Panel on Early Education at ASI

Joan Almon was one of five panelists at a 2013 event in Washington, DC entitled "The Word Gap and the Common Core." This was part of the Conversation Series sponsored by the Albert Shanker Institute and the American Federation of Teachers.

The event was recorded and can be viewed here.


Joan Almon at the 92nd St. Y

In November 2013, Joan gave a talk at the Wonderplay Conference in New York entitled "Dynamic Education in an Era of Rigorous Curriculum, Accountability and Standards."


 Recent Alliance Articles


• The Winter 2013 issue of Playground Magazine has a lead article on risk by Alliance co-founder Joan Almon on page 8. And on page 26 there's an article about the Alliance for Childhood. The online edition is free - read it here. Many of our friends and partners are included in this issue, and there are also articles on recess. Good reading!

• Joan Almon has an article in the Sept.-Oct. 2013 issue of the magazine Principal. "It's Playtime!" examines the importance of play in early education, and how teachers can help children explore the world around them and develop their creativity. Read it here.

• "Reading at five: Why?" by Joan Almon appears in the magazine of The SouthEast Education Network (SEEN). There is no evidence to suggest that early reading is a helpful step for long-term school success. Yet teachers of young children are pressured to devote hours every day to test-driven curricula at the expense of play and other free choice activities. 

• Community Playthings' August 2013 issue of the online magazine Collage features an article by Joan Almon entitled "The Role of Risk in Play and Learning."



National Resolution Against High-Stakes Testing


• The movement calling for the re-examination of high-stakes testing is growing rapidly. Over 18,980 individuals and 570 organizations have signed the National Resolution on High-Stakes Testing petition. Fairtest offers many ways for people to build support for the Resolution.

• New York parents and students have created a powerful video about high-stakes testing and how it's affecting our children. View it here.



Recent Videos


A History and Visual Tour of Adventure Playgrounds

Adventure playgrounds in Europe, Japan and the U.S. Watch it now

An Historical Film from the U.K. on the Origins of Adventure Playgrounds

Watch it now

The Benefits of Risk in Children's Play

Produced by the Alliance and KaBOOM!, this film stresses the idea that children's risk-taking is important for becoming comfortable and secure in the world. Watch it now

Family Play, Family Well-Being

The family that plays together stays together. A KaBOOM! film featuring many children along with six play advocates, including the Alliance's Joan Almon. Watch it now

Also view our earlier films: 

Prescription for Play 
Physicians speak out on the importance of play for children's health. Co-produced by Alliance for Childhood and KaBOOM!

Playwork: An Introduction  


  Keep up with Alliance for Childhood activities!

All of the Alliance Updates are archived here. 


Play in the News


Cities Want Young Families to Play and Stay
Anne Marie Chaker
Wall Street Journal, August 5, 2014

The Overprotected Kid
Hanna Rosin
The Atlantic, March 19, 2014

Why I Cannot Support the Common Core Standards
Diane Ravitch
February 26, 2013 

Click here for many more articles...



Crisis in the Kindergarten:

Why Children Need to Play in School


Research shows that many kindergartens spend 2 to 3 hours per day instructing and testing children in literacy and math—with only 30 minutes per day or less for play. In some kindergartens there is no playtime at all. The same didactic, test-driven approach is entering preschools. But these methods, which are not well grounded in research, are not yielding long-term gains. Meanwhile, behavioral problems and preschool expulsion, especially for boys, are soaring. flier and 8-page summary of the report, including recommendations for action, are also available.

Fact sheet on kindergarten testing, with advice especially for parents.

On May 28, 2009, the Alliance co-hosted a Congressional briefing on early education with the Forum for Education and Democracy.

webinar hosted by KaBOOM! and featuring the authors of the report was recorded on June 2, 2009. 

Click here for media coverage of Crisis in the Kindergarten.



Advocating for Play and Playwork


The Alliance works with other organizations to advocate for play for all children, both in school and out. It also promotes the profession of playwork. Playworkers support children’s play in parks and other settings without dominating or directing it. For fact sheets, videos, booklets, and more on play and playwork, click here.


From the Alliance: Where Do the Children Play? A revised and expanded edition of the Study Guide to the PBS documentary film, with essays by scholars and teachers on the history, psychology, and politics of children’s free play and the growing movement to bring it back into children’s lives. A selection from the book; ordering information.



Declaring a Decade for Childhood


The Alliance and the Association for Childhood Education International have launched an international campaign to improve the conditions of childhood around the world. Too many children grow up without the basic skills needed in a modern world—not only academic skills but also empathy, civility, and a sense of ethical behavior. Many are more comfortable with electronic relationships than face-to-face human ones. Too many are alienated from the world of nature. The long-term effects of an unhealthy childhood will weaken societies that need educated, creative, compassionate, and well-rounded citizens who can bring mature insights to complex issues. The Decade was launched at the Global Summit on Childhood, in Washington, March 28-31, 2012.


 Alliance Childhood poster
(with poem and statement of 7 essentials of healthy childhood)
11 x 17 print size 
8 1/2 x 11 page one and page two 

To order print copies of the 11 x 17 poster ($5) go to the donation page and type "poster" in the note line.   



Fifteen Years of Advocacy

For the Sake of Children


The Alliance was founded in 1999 so that educators, health professionals, and other advocates for children could join forces to reverse the decline in children's health and well-being.  Its public education and advocacy campaigns focus on restoring play to children's lives, the overuse of computers and other advanced technologies in childhood, the commercialization of childhood, and the impact of high-stakes testing on children and their schools. The Alliance has published reports and position statements. It is a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization based in College Park, Maryland, with partners and affiliates all over the U.S. and in Europe and South America.