Can We Play?

David Elkind Psychologist & Author

Detroit, Michigan


David Elkind, a psychologist, book author, and professor emeritus of child development at Tufts University, wrote the article “Can We Play,” published in Greater Good magazine (Spring 2008, Volume IV, Issue 4).

The article begins with these passages:

Play is rapidly disappearing from our homes, our schools, and our neighborhoods. Over the last two decades alone, children have lost eight hours of free, unstructured, and spontaneous play a week.

More than 30,000 schools in the United States have eliminated recess to make more time for academics. From 1997 to 2003, children’s time spent outdoors fell 50 percent, according to a study by Sandra Hofferth at the University of Maryland. Hofferth has also found that the amount of time children spend in organized sports has doubled, and the number of minutes children devote each week to passive leisure, not including watching television, has increased from 30 minutes to more than three hours. It is no surprise, then, that childhood obesity is now considered an epidemic.

And later includes this paragraph:

Years of research has confirmed the value of play. In early childhood, play helps children develop skills they can not get in any other way. Babbling, for example, is a self-initiated form of play through which infants create the sounds they need to learn the language of their parents. Likewise, children teach themselves to crawl, stand, and walk through repetitious practice play. At the preschool level, children engage in dramatic play and learn who is a leader, who is a follower, who is outgoing, who is shy. They also learn to negotiate their own conflicts.

You can read the full article on the Greater Good website: “Can We Play?

Though David Elkind’s article doesn’t mention OH Cards, we present it as context for OH Card use.