Importance and Need

Burdette, H. L., & Whitaker, R. C. (2005).  Resurrecting Free Play in Young Children, Looking Beyond Fitness and Fatness to Attention, Affiliation, and Affect.  Journal of American Medical Association, 159, 46-50.

The purpose of this article is to demonstrate why active play needs to be restored in children’s lives.  The article discusses how play has the potential to improve all aspects of children’s development and well-being; physical, emotional, social, and cognitive skills.  The article describes promoting using alternative terminology to encourage play.  For example, using “play” instead of “physical activity,” “exercise,” or “sports,” has a more positive response to both children and their parents’.

This article has a lot of positive attributes that would be useful for further research purposes.  Additional research on the importance of “play” indoors and outdoors would better provide support of the benefits of play in gross motor development and the well-being of children’s overall development.

The Bogin Playscape Project supports the importance of play to continue motor development in pre-school aged children.  The project promotes development through physical play, giving pre-school aged children opportunities to engage in increased indoor play.


Chakrabarti, S. (2005).  Pervasive Developmental Disorders in Preschool Children: Confirmation of high prevalence.  The American Journal of Psychiatry, 162, 1133-1141.  Retrieved from

Research provided by: S. Flathers, OTS; Springfield College

This article compared the rate of children age 4-6 with pervasive developmental disorders (PDD) in the same geographical region over a 15 year span. The researchers compared a group of children born in 1992-1995 with that of a group born in 1999-2002. The researchers found that there was an increase in the prevalence of pervasive developmental disorders.

The authors found a rate of 62.6 per 10,000 childrenin a previous study of preschoolers in Stafford, U.K. Screening for developmental problemsincluded 10,903 children ages 4.0 to 6.0 years. Their conclusion was that the rates of pervasive developmental disorder were higher than previously thought. This is a useful article to analyze when looking at the increase in motor development delays. Although the article doesn’t mention the cause of developmental delays, by comparing the research from other articles we can associate that lack of physical play is a possibility for this increase.

Clements, Rhonda. “An Investigation of the Status of Outdoor Play.”Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood 5 (2004).

This article asked the question if outdoor play has decreased over the years. The study found that children are spending less time outside, they engage in different play, are playing indoors more than outdoors, there are new obstacles to playing outdoors, and parents understand the importance of being outdoors.


Englebright Fox, J. (2007). Back-to-Basics: Play in Early Childhood. Earlychildhood News. CA: Excelligence Learning Corporation.

Research provided by: A. VanderStaay, OTS; Springfield College

Research shows children learn best by playing.  Play is important in developing cognition, creativity, imagination, physical behaviors, language development, social competence, and perceptual-motor abilities. As children play they draw upon what they see, what they’ve heard, what they’ve done, and what they’ve read.  They create games and scenarios while using and developing fine and gross motor skills. They use language to engage socially and respond emotionally to the play activity.

The authors believe play is crucial to development.  They believe that through the integration of different types of behaviors cognitive development in young children is enhanced.


Fombonne, E. (2008). Epidemiology of Pervasive Developmental Disorders.  Pediatric Research, 65 (6), 591-598. 

Research provided by: S. Flathers, OTS; Springfield College

This article reviews the results of 43 studies published since 1966 that provided estimates for the prevalence of pervasive developmental disorders (PDD). It has found that the prevalence of autistic disorders has increased over recent years. The whole spectrum of pervasive developmental disorders has consistently provided estimates in the 60-70/10,000 range, making PDDs one of the most frequent childhood neurodevelopmental disorders.

Although the article finds that there is an increase in the diagnosis of these disorders, it is not known whether the increase comes from an actual increase of the disorder, or, because of the better understanding and knowledge of them, they are simply being found more.

The studies were identified through systematic searches from the major scientific literature databases such as MEDLINE and PSYCINFO using search words autism, pervasive developmental disorder, epidemiology, prevalence, and from prior reviews. The surveys came from 17 different countries.

The more recent surveys have found a higher prevalence in the United States than in other countries.


Ginsburg, K.R. (2007). The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds. American Academy of Pediatrics, 119(1), p. 182-191.

Research provided by: A. VanderStaay, OTS; Springfield College

This article addresses the benefits of unstructured play (increased dexterity, creativity, cognition, healthy brain development).  It explains what repercussions may occur as a result of reducing playtime (decreased gross motor, reduced cognitive abilities, increase in obesity, and in some children an increase in stress and anxiety).  Playtime has been eroded due to hurried lifestyles, increased attention to academics, changes in family structure, and an increase in structured activities.  This report offers physicians guidelines to ensure play is protected.

King, R. (2009). Professional Perspectives and Research on Children’s Outdoor Environments. The Natural Playgrounds Company. Retrieved October 23, 2011, from

Research provided by: B. Atwood, OTS; Springfield College

           This article stresses the importance of outdoor play for preschoolers. It provides statements from a variety of professional perspectives about children’s outdoor play environments. The researchers found information on the effect of outdoor play on the physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development of a child. Children need the outdoor stimulation of playgrounds for proper development to occur. The article also focuses on the teachers’ roles and behaviors when on the playground.  It states many teachers’ beliefs, interactions, and views on play. This information is vital to the project because it provides research on the effectiveness of play, why it is important, and safety information regarding outdoor play equipment.


Pica, Rae . “The Importance of Physical Education for Preschoolers.” Disney Family. 28 Oct. 2011. <>.

This article discusses the issue of not teaching preschoolers the importance of physical education in children. One point that this article makes is that we do not wait to teach our children things like brushing their teeth and getting dressed, so why should we delay on teaching them the importance of physical education and play.


Rosenberg, S. A. (2008).  Prevalence of Developmental Delays and Participation in Early Intervention Services for Young Children.  Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, 121 (6), 1503-1509.  Retrieved from

Research provided by: S. Flathers, OTS; Springfield College

The purpose of this study was to discover the rate of eligibility of a nationally representative longitudinal sample of children who are eligible for Part C early intervention. Part C is specified in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) as a government agency program to address the needs of children who are younger than 3 years and have developmental delay. It also hoped to estimate rates of access to services for developmental delays, and to examine factors that are associated with access to services.

Not only did this study find that there is a high rate of children who are eligible for these services who are not receiving them, but it found that the prevalence of developmental delays that make children eligible for Part C services is much higher than previously thought.

Although the initial purpose of this study does not directly correlate to increasing referrals for occupational therapy (OT) services. The information found out during this study does influence the need for these services. Not only are there many children not receiving services they need, but there seems to be an increase in the amount of children who need these services.


Thian, Deidre. “The Importance of Play.” Curriculum Leadership 4 (2006): 13 Oct. 2011 <>.

This article focuses mostly on school aged playgrounds but goes into more depth about what a gross motor play area should have and what children want to see in these areas. It is important for children for have both formal play and informal play during their recess and outdoor time.


Torbert, M. (1993). Developmentally appropriate- developmentally relevant. Journal of Physical Education Recreation and Dance, 64(7), 5.

Research provided by: A. VanderStaay, OTS; Springfield College

Physical education in schools must be more pertinent than just educating through the physical. Educators seem focused on educating the “whole child” when in reality the physical is deemed irrelevant. The physical education provided must be reviewed and the goals altered to ensure that the education the child receives is essential, focusing on social, emotional, and cognitive, as well as the physical.

This author questions why it is not possible, for some educators, to believe that children can learn through the physical.  Some educators focus on social, emotional, and cognitive needs, such as cooperation and critical thinking, as separate from the physical. Others believe children become fit when they are involved in activities that have been chosen to affect social and cognitive needs.  The author offers suggestions for a broader, whole-child approach. These include developmentally relevant programs that target social, emotional and cognitive components, increase physical involvement by teaching “of and through” the physical, and to consider these components as part of the physical development. According to the author, by considering the developmentally relevant needs of the whole child physical involvement may improve, thus enhancing the educational process.


Wardle, F. (n.d.). Supporting Constructive Play in the Wild. Guidelines for Learning Outdoors.

Retrieved October 23, 2011, from

Research provided by: B. Atwood, OTS; Springfield College

This article talks about the need for constructive play for children. Constructive play is important because it promotes specific skills like nailing wood or digging in a garden. It also provides positive self-esteem because children who create something feel good about themselves. It gives a list of objects that promote constructive play that could be used in and outdoors. Examples include large building blocks, sand toys, water tables, etc. This organization promotes the idea of using objects in a different way such as instead of painting on paper, paint on the sidewalk or fence. The article mentions the benefits of loose parts on a playground and states the precautions that should be taken with some of the objects. Loose objects promote constructive and enjoyable play yet it can also be a safety hazard or visibly unappealing if materials are not put away.


Williams, H. (2008). Motor skill performance and physical activity in preschool children. The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, (16)6, 1421-1426. Retrieved from

Research provided by: S. Flathers, OTS; Springfield College

This study consisted of about 200 preschool children. The CHAMPS motor skill protocol was used to assess gross motor skills. This article discusses the physical activity level of children and compares children with motor skill delays with those without them. This is a very useful article because it focuses on the target population (3-4 year olds) and addresses the importance of physical activity in the population.

The article found that children with motor skill delays are more likely to be less physically active. This could be important for the overall health of children and related to obesity. The study finds that more kids with better developed motor skills spent more time playing and less time sedentary. This is evidence that physical play is crucial for children developmentally and for their overall health.


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