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.
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.
Growing Interest in Adventure Play
Recently there has been a lot of media attention on adventure play, especially because of Hanna Rosin's March 2014 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.
In October 2013, Joan Almon visited The Land, the adventure playground in Wales. The BBC ran a piece about it, which can be viewed here.
November 5-8 in Dallas, Texas: The Alliance for Childhood will have a presence at the NAEYC Annual Conference. Look for us at Booth 942. We will also be participating in several panels. Hope to see you there!
November 14-15 in New York City: The eighth annual Wonderplay Conference will take place at the 92nd St. Y. Alliance co-founder Joan Almon will be presenting two workshops. Click here for the flier.
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
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.
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.
Recent Talks Online
On May 8, 2014, Alliance co-founder and director of programs Joan Almon gave a talk at the Child Study Center of Wellesley College. The talk is now available to view online.
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.
Joan Almon was one of five panelists at a 2013 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.
In November 2013, Joan gave a talk at the Wonderplay Conference in New York entitled "Dynamic Education in an Era of Rigorous Curriculum, Accountability and Standards."
Recent Alliance Articles
• The Winter 2013 issue of Playground Magazine has a lead article on risk by Alliance co-founder 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. 2013 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."
National Resolution Against High-Stakes Testing
• The movement calling for the re-examination of high-stakes testing is growing rapidly. Over 18,980 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.
Adventure playgrounds in Europe, Japan and the U.S. Watch it now
Watch it now
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
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.
Play in the News
Cities Want Young Families to Play and Stay
Anne Marie Chaker
Wall Street Journal, August 5, 2014
The Overprotected Kid
The Atlantic, March 19, 2014
Why I Cannot Support the Common Core Standards
February 26, 2013
Click here for many more articles...
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. A 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.
A 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.
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.
From the Alliance: Where Do the Children Play? A 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.
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.