Restoring Childhood Play


Alliance Kindergarten Report

Crisis in the Kindergarten:
Why Children Need to Play in School

Time for play in most kindergartens has dwindled to the vanishing point, replaced by lengthy lessons and standardized testing, according to results of three new studies commissioned by the Alliance for Childhood. Children in all-day kindergartens were found to spend four to six times as much time being instructed, tested, or prepared for tests (about two to three hours per day) as in free play or “choice time” (30 minutes or less). Classic play materials like blocks, sand and water tables, and props for dramatic play have largely disappeared. The findings are documented in Crisis in the Kindergarten, which says these practices, “which are not well grounded in research, violate long-established principles of child development and good teaching.” The Alliance calls for the restoration of “child-initiated play and experiential learning with the active support of teachers to their rightful place at the heart of kindergarten education.”

An 8-page summary of the report, including recommendations for action, is also available.

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

Details of the three kindergarten studies, conducted by researchers from U.C.L.A., Long Island University, and the Sarah Lawrence College Child Development Institute, are given in the accompanying Research Summary and in the CDI Final Report.


Core Standards May Lead to a
Plague of Kindergarten Tests 

The Alliance for Childhood warns that states considering adopting the new academic core standards could set in motion a spate of inappropriate and harmful testing of young children. 

For background information on the Core Standards and the Alliance's position click here.


Play and Playwork

In April and May 2009 the Alliance hosted London playworker Penny Wilson in a series of conferences on inclusive play and play in nature in Ohio, Chicago, and the San Francisco Bay Area. The Playwork Primer by Penny was distributed at the events.  Details about the events can be found in our Restoring Play Archive. See a video introduction on playwork featuring Penny Wilson.


We are grateful to Carol Torgan for her excellent resource list.


Fact Sheets and Guides 

 Kindergarten Testing, with advice especially for parents.

 Playwork, Play, and Adventure Playgrounds.

 Time for Play, Every Day

"Play in the Early Years": a guide for parents and educators


 Play in the News

Recent articles on the importance of play: 

Is Children's Play Innate?
William Crain, Encounter
Summer, 2010

Helping Your Kids Avoid Stress
Stacy Hawkins Adams, Richman Times-Dispatch 
March 7, 2010

Playing to Learn
Susan Engel, The New York Times
February 1, 2010

Click here for more...


Overview of Play Outreach

When the Alliance began its Restoring Childhood Play project we were repeatedly told that “play” had become a “four-letter word.” Rather than abandoning the word, we decided it was time to redeem it, and many others seem to have come to the same conclusion. A growing number of books, conferences, articles, and reports attest to the vital role of play in children’s lives. The Alliance is pursuing a multi-pronged approach to restoring play:.  

  1. A campaign to restore creative play and hands-on learning in kindergarten and preschool education.
  2. A focus on playwork to help adults learn how to support children's play on school playgrounds and in parks, children's museums, and other out-of-school environments.
  3. Outdoor play is an age-old and vital part of childhood, but it has largely vanished. The Alliance is partnering with others to support play in nature.
  4. Support for public education efforts in conjunction with the PBS documentary Where Do the Children Play?
  5. We maintain an updated list of resources for parents and educators relating to play.