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Publication Title:

Childhood, Unplugged: Overcoming Barriers to Outdoor Learning and Hands-On Play


Mary MacKenzie, ICS Senior Fellow
Megan Carolan, ICS Director of Policy Research

Date: February 2019

Publication Type: Issue Briefs & Policy Reports

Policy Area: Building Stronger Early Childhood Systems

Page Count: 18


This brief introduces readers to the importance of play and outdoor experience during the early childhood years and establishes the negative impacts of a lack of play. It also presents a number of common barriers to embracing play and outdoor learning in the lives of young children and “troubleshoots” these scenarios based on best practices in communities and research evidence. This paper will focus on issues and opportunities at multiple levels: families, program providers, policymakers, and community-members. It is not a definitive playbook, but rather a field guide to better understanding the science of play and empowering individuals, communities, and governments to commit themselves to investing in opportunities which have the potential to improve quality of life and learning.

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