The Power of Play: A Pediatric Role in Enhancing Development in Young Children

American Academy of Pediatrics Clinical Report: Guidance for the Clinician in Rendering Pediatric Care (2018)
Authors: Yogman, Garner, Hutchinson, Hirsh-Pasek, Golinkoff


  • Play is: an activity that is intrinsically motivated, entails active engagement,  results in joyful discovery, is voluntary, is fun and spontaneous. [pg. 2]
  • “Children are often seen actively engaged in and passionately engrossed in play; this builds executive functioning skills and contributes to school readiness (bored children will not learn well). [pg. 2]
  • “Play leads to changes at the molecular (epigenetic), cellular (neuronal connectivity), and behavioral levels (socioemotional and executive functioning skills) that promote learning and adaptive and/or prosocial behavior.” [pg. 5]
  • “Gene expression analyses indicate that the activities of approximately one-third of the 1200 genes in the frontal and posterior cortical regions were significantly modified by play within an hour after a 30-minutes play session.” [pg. 5]
  • “Play usually enhances curiosity, which facilitates memory and learning.” [pg. 6]
  • “Children who were in active play for 1 hour per day were better able to think creatively and multitask. Randomized trials of physical play in 7- to 9-year-olds revealed enhanced attentional inhibition, cognitive flexibility, and brain functioning that were indicative of enhanced executive control [sic].” [pg. 6]
  • “Children have been shown to discover causal mechanisms more quickly when they drive their learning as opposed to when adults display solutions for them.” [pg. 7]
Yogman, Michael, et al. “The Power of Play: A Pediatric Role in Enhancing Development in Young Children.” Pediatrics, vol. 142, no. 3, 3 Sept. 2018, p. 1.,