Is playtime just for fun? If it was, would that be a problem? Not according to Dr. Joanna Cemore Brigden, associate professor of childhood education at Missouri State University. Her research shows that parents and educators should emphasize free playtime for children and reduce structured activities and testing.
She teaches outdoor play classes along with the graduate course Life as Play, which teaches the importance of giving children time to play, explore, create and imagine.
“The problem for us in the U.S. is we don’t have a lot of ‘play’ in school anymore, and there’s been a reduction in free play outside of school, too,” she said. “That’s a really huge concern of my research and advocacy efforts.”
Brigden is the book review editor for Association for the Study of Play, an international organization of play scholars. In addition, she is on the board of the International Play Association, or IPA. The IPA’s purpose is protection, preservation and promotion of the child’s right to play as a fundamental human right.
“IPA works cooperatively with organizations through the U.N. in the service of children’s right to play throughout the world. This can range from research and advocacy in schools to facilitating play in war-torn areas of the world or escaping slavery and trafficking,” said Brigden.