We know that play has purpose, but too many kids are missing out on one of the most important childhood experiences-- play. Download these play facts to help spread the word that play matters.

Play is on the decline throughout America and too many kids are missing out on the childhood they deserve. Play is disappearing from homes, from schools, and from communities.

Too many people believe that play is a luxury. In fact, play helps kids grow to be healthy, happy, and successful, allowing kids to be creative and adventurous, to explore, get exercise, and make friends.

Active Play Builds Minds

Kids who play do better in school because play helps develop the cognitive skills that are positively linked to learning and academic performance.

  • Children in China, Korea, Finland, Singapore, and Japan are provided with playful schooling opportunities prior to second grade and have among the highest scores on the international PISA exam for 15-year-olds, ranked 1, 2, 3, 5, and 8 respectively. The U.S. was ranked at #13.
  • 80% of principals report that recess has a positive impact on academic achievement.
  • Play encourages creativity through the recombining of ideas, the use of symbols, and making associations—an important part of divergent thinking.

Active Play Builds Healthy Bodies

Kids who play are healthier, less likely to be obese, and less prone to obesity-related health problems such as diabetes and heart disease because play keeps kids active.

  • Children who live within a half mile of a park or playground are nearly five times more likely to be of healthy weight.
  • Increased access to play opportunities through playgrounds and parks provide significant long-term health benefits such as chronic disease prevention.
  • Children who play have a lower BMI compared to children who watch television. A 2011 study found that for each hour of play per day, the playing children had 0.62 percentile point lower BMI, and the TV-watching children had 0.49 percentile points higher BMI for each hour spent in front of the screen. [i]

Active Play Brings Kids and Communities Together

Kids who play make friends and build their confidence because play teaches the social skills that help them become happy, well-adjusted adults.

  • 96% of pediatricians say that play helps build kids’ social skills and confidence.
  • Children deprived of play can show increased problems with social integration, including greater likelihood of felony arrests by young adulthood.
  • Community centered playgrounds provide a public space where neighbors can meet and discuss common problems. Without these gathering places public discourse becomes more challenging and it is difficult for democracy to thrive.[ii]

[i] Young Children in Urban Areas: Links Among Neighborhood Characteristics, Weight Status, Outdoor Play, and Television Watching. Kimbro TR, Brooks-Gunn J, & Mclanahan S. Social Science & Medicine. Vo. 72 No. 5 (2011)

[ii] Benjamin Shepard (2005): Play, Creativity, and the New Community Organizing, Journal of Progressive Human Services, 16:2, 47-69