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5 Reasons Why Play Is So Important

The University of Washington shares new research on the importance of play and child development

“Play” is one of the watchwords for parents right now. We’ve heard that it’s the work of childhood, that it's the birthplace of individuals, that it's in short supply. Perhaps you’ve even watched a TED talk or two on the merits of play. The topic took center stage at the University of Washington’s (UW) College of Education’s EDU Talks on Nov. 3. UW faculty members gave 5-minute TED-style talks about their research on play and learning at this event co-hosted by the Pacific Science Center. Here’s what I learned:


Plato tells us that we can discover more about a person in an hour of play than we do during a year of conversation. During her presentation, UW associate professor and director of the School Psychology Program Janine Jones shared the story of a 7-year-old she worked with. The child hadn’t spoken in months but began to talk as, together, Jones and the child used blocks to build a swimming pool (Jones knew this child’s father cleaned pools for a living). Jones also shared how, in play, a victim of bullying can learn new ways of effectively responding to a bully.

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