6-1 | Probing Play: The Research We Need

Guest Editors' Afterword

Probing Play: The Research We Need

First Paragraph:

Understanding the role of play in children’s learning and development is crucially important because such understanding should inform decisions about how young children spend their time. Yet decision makers are increasingly treating play as dispensable and replacing preschoolers’ playtime with academics (Bassock and Rorem 2013). This state of affairs has led to a surge of interest in improving understanding of play’s importance (Hirsh-Pasek et al. 2009; Lillard et al. 2013) and prompted this special issue. In addressing the current state of affairs in play research, these articles provide ample fuel for further inquiry. The authors of these articles raised many key issues, among them: (1) the need for clearer operational definitions of play; (2) the importance of improving methodological rigor in studies of play; (3) the difficulty of eliciting authentic play in experimental settings; and (4) the need to look separately at play quantity and play quality in examining the role of play in development. Before discussing these issues further, we raise the overarching concern of researchers subscribing to a “play ethos.”