Play is recognized by the UN as “a right of every child.” Essential to children’s development, it contributes to their cognitive, physical, social/emotional well-being and offers parent’s opportunities to engage with children. This workshop will explore: the benefits of play; barriers that limit access; and engage in replicable family play activities.

Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning. Play is the real work of childhood.” (Fred Rogers)

Play is so important that it has been recognized as “a right of every child” by the United Nations. “Play is essential to development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children and youth.” (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2007) Play offers an ideal opportunity for parents to engage fully with their children, helping to build strong, healthy, resilient families.

What are the benefits of play that lead to the healthy development of children and youth? What are some of the factors/barriers that have contributed to a remarkably reduced opportunity for children and families to play and benefit from these positive outcomes? As practitioners what can we do to help families appreciate the tangible, lifelong benefits of play and perhaps reconnect with one another through play and laughter? How can we help them overcome the barriers to meaningful play? What are practical, inexpensive ways to introduce play activities to families experiencing homelessness?

Benefits of Play for Children, Youth & Families:

  • optimize development;
  • promote social-emotional, cognitive, language and self-regulation skills;
  • important antidote to adversity, trauma and toxic stress;
  • understand and manage emotions;
  • set and achieve positive goals;
  • feel and show empathy for others;
  • establish and maintain positive relationships;
  • make responsible decisions;
  • use their creativity and imagination;
  • increased self-confidence;
  • learn social skills requiring them to negotiate, share, take turns, follow rules, resolve conflict and advocate for themselves;
  • identify interests and passions they have and may wish to pursue;
  • academic development and success;
  • improve parental communication;
  • increase family bonding and a sense of belonging; pass on family values, traditions and history;
  • parents and caregivers who understand and appreciate the developmental stages of children and play can structure time and toys appropriately and be more patient and realistic in their expectations;
  • tension and stress can be released through fun, laughter, physical activity, creativity, etc.

Participants will be given the opportunity to learn about and engage in activities that can be used with/taught to families that are low to no cost; simple ways for families to be strengthened, and in some cases given hope and healing from the trauma and toxic stress of homelessness Goals include: recognizing the importance of and how to play together as a family; understanding how playing and dreaming together can help make them a stronger family; to help parents realize the importance of their family’s culture, history and traditions and how to share these with their children; to help families improve communication and reinforce their belief in one another. Family bonds are strengthened, and children experience the love, acceptance and sense of belonging they desire and need to be resilient and face the challenges of life.

Objectives: (for CEU’s)

Participants will be able to name/explain/use:

  • The importance and benefits of play for children, youth and families
  • Activities they can immediately implement with families in their setting
  • Strategies and information to enhance their advocacy skills


  • United Nations, defines “play”
  • Fred Rogers, on “play”
  • American Academy of Pediatrics

Format: PowerPoint, Facilitated Discussion, Interactive Activities, Videos


  • 1 to 1.5 hrs. (Conferences only)
  • 3 hr. Workshop