Research and Advocacy


The Alliance for Childhood promotes policies and practices that support children’s healthy development, love of learning, and joy in living. Our public education campaigns bring to light both the promise and the vulnerability of childhood. We act for the sake of the children themselves and for a more just, democratic, and ecologically responsible future. 


Growing Interest in Adventure Play


Recently there has been a lot of media attention on adventure play, especially because of Hanna Rosin's recent Atlantic article about The Land and other adventure playgrounds. Click here to see a roundup of articles and interviews reflecting the growing interest in adventure play.



Just Released!

Adventure: The value of risk in children's play

 by Joan Almon


This booklet is an exploration of why children need adventurous play and how they successfully cope with it through risk-assessment. Click here for a sample of the book, including the introduction.

To order your copy, click here.



Just Published!

A Research-Based Case for Recess

by Olga S. Jarrett


Over the past 20-25 years, recess has been cut back severely in many schools. Yet research points to the many benefits of this important part of the day for children's healthy development. Download the article here.



Upcoming Events


July 12, 2014
9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Stanford University, California
Play Symposium
Sponsored by The Bing Institute
Alliance co-founder Joan Almon will be one of the presenters at this symposium, which will focus on the essential role of play for learning, growth, and well-being. For more information, including how to register, visit the event website. Click here to see the flyer.



Encouraging Adventure:

Redefining Success to Include Risk


On May 8, Joan Almon gave a talk at the Child Study Center of Wellesley College. The talk is now available to view online



Is the Common Core Developmentally Appropriate?


Alliance co-founder Joan Almon was interviewed in February by Aggie Sung Tang of Princeton TV's Education Roundtable on the Common Core and early childhood education. View the show here.



Dec. 11 Panel on Early Education at ASI


Joan Almon was one of five panelists at an event in Washington, DC entitled "The Word Gap and the Common Core." This was part of the Conversation Series sponsored by the Albert Shanker Institute and the American Federation of Teachers.

The event was recorded and can be viewed here.


The Alliance in the News


In October, Joan Almon visited The Land, an adventure playground in Wales. The BBC ran a piece about it, which can be viewed here.



 Recent Alliance Articles


• The Winter 2013 issue of Playground Magazine has a lead article on risk by Joan Almon on page 8. And on page 26 there's an article about the Alliance for Childhood. The online edition is free - read it here. Many of our friends and partners are included in this issue, and there are also articles on recess. Good reading!

• Joan Almon has an article in the Sept.-Oct. issue of the magazine Principal. "It's Playtime!" examines the importance of play in early education, and how teachers can help children explore the world around them and develop their creativity. Read it here.

• "Reading at five: Why?" by Joan Almon appears in the magazine of The SouthEast Education Network (SEEN). There is no evidence to suggest that early reading is a helpful step for long-term school success. Yet teachers of young children are pressured to devote hours every day to test-driven curricula at the expense of play and other free choice activities. 

• Community Playthings' August 2013 issue of the online magazine Collage features an article by Joan Almon entitled "The Role of Risk in Play and Learning."



Facing the Screen Dilemma:

Young Children, Technology and Early Education 


Co-authored by the Alliance for Childhood, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, and Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Children’s Entertainment

This guide is designed to help educators and parents make informed decisions about whether, why, how, and when to use screen technologies with young children. Just because products are marketed as “educational” doesn’t mean they are. How do we best support children’s growth, development, and learning in a world radically changed by technology? Download your free copy here.

A Facebook page has been set up devoted to discussing the ideas in Facing the Screen Dilemma. Visit the Facebook page here.

Now available: German translation of Facing the Screen Dilemma



National Resolution Against High-Stakes Testing


• The movement calling for the re-examination of high-stakes testing is growing rapidly. Over 18,940 individuals and 570 organizations have signed the National Resolution on High-Stakes Testing petition. Fairtest offers many ways for people to build support for the Resolution.

• New York parents and students have created a powerful video about high-stakes testing and how it's affecting our children. View it here.



Recent Videos


A History and Visual Tour of Adventure Playgrounds

Adventure playgrounds in Europe, Japan and the U.S. Watch it now

An Historical Film from the U.K. on the Origins of Adventure Playgrounds

Watch it now

The Benefits of Risk in Children's Play

Produced by the Alliance and KaBOOM!, this film stresses the idea that children's risk-taking is important for becoming comfortable and secure in the world. Watch it now

Family Play, Family Well-Being

The family that plays together stays together. A KaBOOM! film featuring many children along with six play advocates, including the Alliance's Joan Almon. Watch it now

Also view our earlier films: 

Prescription for Play 
Physicians speak out on the importance of play for children's health. Co-produced by Alliance for Childhood and KaBOOM!

Playwork: An Introduction  


  Keep up with Alliance for Childhood activities!

All of the Alliance Updates are archived here. 


Recently Published:

The Crisis in Early Education

 A Research-Based Case for More Play and Less Pressure

by Joan Almon and Edward Miller 

This four-page article succinctly makes the case for
play-based education.



Crisis in the Kindergarten:

Why Children Need to Play in School


Research shows that many kindergartens spend 2 to 3 hours per day instructing and testing children in literacy and math—with only 30 minutes per day or less for play. In some kindergartens there is no playtime at all. The same didactic, test-driven approach is entering preschools. But these methods, which are not well grounded in research, are not yielding long-term gains. Meanwhile, behavioral problems and preschool expulsion, especially for boys, are soaring. flier and 8-page summary of the report, including recommendations for action, are also available.

Fact sheet on kindergarten testing, with advice especially for parents.

On May 28, 2009 the Alliance co-hosted a Congressional briefing on early education with the Forum for Education and Democracy.

webinar hosted by KaBOOM! and featuring the authors of the report was recorded on June 2, 2009. 

Click here for media coverage of Crisis in the Kindergarten.



 Play in the News


The Overprotected Kid
Hanna Rosin
The Atlantic, March 19, 2014

Why I Cannot Support the Common Core Standards
Diane Ravitch
February 26, 2013 

My View: Obama, Romney need to know one thing about early childhood education — start over
Nancy Carlsson-Paige
CNN online, August 29, 2012

The Power of Play with Children
Alexa Joy Sherman
New Parent, June 2012

Keep the Fun in Kindergarten, Expert Says
Molly Walsh
Burlington Free Press, May 11, 2012 

Ban Homework Before Third Grade; Support Children's Play
Bonnie Harris
Christian Science Monitor, April 24, 2012

Killing Kindergarten
Amanda Moreno
The Huffington Post, March 29, 2012 

Toddlers to Tweens: Relearning How to Play
Stephanie Hanes
The Christian Science Monitor, January 22, 2012

The American Academy of Pediatrics has released its second report on play with a focus on children in poverty.
Read it here.

Fun and Leisure: Restoring Play to All Children
Joan Almon
Published by NCPAD
The Alliance executive director writes about inclusive play.

How children's 'play' is being sneakily redefined
Alfie Kohn
The Washington Post, November 16, 2011

Preschool Tests Take Time Away from Play—and Learning
Paul Tullis
Scientific American, November 2, 2011
Paul Tullis raises the questions, "The trend in early education is to move from a play-based curriculum to a more school-like environment of directed learning. But is earlier better? And better at what?"

All Work and No Play: Why Your Kids are More Anxious, Depressed
Esther Entin, M.D.
The Atlantic, October 12, 2011
Dr. Entin writes, "Play time is in short supply for children these days and the lifelong consequences for developing children can be more serious than many people realize."

Click here for more...



 Advocating for Play and Playwork


The Alliance works with other organizations to advocate for play for all children, both in school and out. It also promotes the profession of playwork. Playworkers support children’s play in parks and other settings without dominating or directing it. For fact sheets, videos, booklets, and more on play and playwork, click here.


New from the Alliance: Where Do the Children Play? A newly revised and expanded edition of the Study Guide to the PBS documentary film, with essays by scholars and teachers on the history, psychology, and politics of children’s free play and the growing movement to bring it back into children’s lives. A selection from the book; ordering information.



Declaring a Decade for Childhood


The Alliance and the Association for Childhood Education International have launched an international campaign to improve the conditions of childhood around the world. Too many children grow up without the basic skills needed in a modern world—not only academic skills but also empathy, civility, and a sense of ethical behavior. Many are more comfortable with electronic relationships than face-to-face human ones. Too many are alienated from the world of nature. The long-term effects of an unhealthy childhood will weaken societies that need educated, creative, compassionate, and well-rounded citizens who can bring mature insights to complex issues. The Decade was launched at the Global Summit on Childhood, in Washington, March 28-31, 2012.


 Alliance Childhood poster
(with poem and statement of 7 essentials of healthy childhood)
11 x 17 print size 
8 1/2 x 11 page one and page two 

To order print copies of the 11 x 17 poster ($5) go to the donation page and type "poster" in the note line.   



Fifteen Years of Advocacy

For the Sake of Children


The Alliance was founded in 1999 so that educators, health professionals, and other advocates for children could join forces to reverse the decline in children's health and well-being.  Its public education and advocacy campaigns focus on restoring play to children's lives, the overuse of computers and other advanced technologies in childhood, the commercialization of childhood, and the impact of high-stakes testing on children and their schools. The Alliance has published reports and position statements. It is a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization based in College Park, Maryland, with partners and affiliates all over the U.S. and in Europe and South America.