News Update

Play may seems to reduce inequity among early learners, report finds

One of the answers to reducing inequity and addressing mental health concerns among young children may be as simple as providing more opportunities to play, some experts suggest. 

A growing body of research is making the case for play as a way to boost the well-being of young children as the pandemic drags on and concern over learning loss grows stronger, as the Hechinger Report notes. 

Play is such a powerful technique, according to a recent report by the LEGO Foundation, that it can be used as a tool to close achievement gaps between children ages 3 to 6. The report looked at 26 studies of play from 18 countries. It found that in disadvantaged communities, including those in Bangladesh, Rwanda and Ethiopia, children showed significantly greater learning gains in literacy, motor and social-emotional development when attending child care centers that used a mix of instruction and free play.

The analysis found that play sparked children to make progress in several domains of learning, including language and literacy, social-emotional skills and math. The range of mentally stimulating play includes games, open play where children can freely explore and use their imaginations and play where teachers provide materials and parameters.

These findings may suggest that, rather than focusing primarily on academic outcomes and school readiness, as Hechinger reported, play should be used as a strategy to “tackle inequality and improve the outcomes of children from different socio-economic groups.”