Playground hanging around

Many thanks to all of the families and teachers that joined us on Saturday morning for Cougar U. Learning the science behind why play is significant provides great insight into why we need to make play a priority. Dr. Stuart Brown is the lead researcher of play. He has studied the neurological and psychological significance of play and the dangerous mental and physical outcomes when an individual has no “play history”. During the presentation last Saturday, I discussed the significant developmental processes that play promotes. Here’s a few:

  • Through play children take on a role. Through that role, they must follow certain rules. For example, to be a firefighter you must follow the role of a firefighter and there are certain rules that define that role (i.e. firefighters are brave not scared – so the rule for that role is to act/be brave). The child through play learns to follow the rules, in this case, the rules of the role (firefighter). Through this they develop self-regulation and learn how to follow societal/community rules.
  • Through play children learn how to collaborate as they must work together.
  • Children learn how to negotiate and empathize as roles need to be determined, negotiated and empathy is learned as they share the common determination and playing out of the roles.
  • Children learn how to use their imaginations and more importantly how to take those ideas and create.
  • Play promotes all developmental domains: Social/Emotional, Physical (fine and gross motor), Language and Cognitive. All essential for healthy, long-term mental and physical well-being.

I could go on and on regarding the research that supports play. There is a ton of it (past and present), and it all supports the significance and necessity for us to play throughout our lifespan. If we want to be healthy and have success, we need to play.

If you’re curious checkout Dr. Stuart Brown’s Ted Talk.


Click here to watch Dr. Stuart Brown discuss the science behind play


If you’re looking to read up on the topic of Play. Here’s a few books you might find of interest:


Play: How It Shapes The Brain, Opens the Imagination & Invigorates the Soul by Dr. Stuart Brown


The Power of Play: Learning What Comes Naturally by Dr. David Elkind


Play It Away: A Workaholic’s Cure for Anxiety by Charlie Hoehn


As Albert Einstein so famously put it, “Play is the highest form of research.”  Play is a part of school and as necessary as Math, Science and English. So don’t forget the significance of play and be sure that you’re playing!! Your “play history matters” so Play On!!

Sallie Wells, Head of School