How does play influence positive life outcomes? by Paul Ramchandani LEGO® Professor of Play

20 October 2020

LEGO Serious Play - Paul Ramchandani

Over a lunch break today after a morning of administration (no LEGO bricks in sight!), I listened to a virtual event led by Professor Paul Ramchandani, head of the Play In Education Development and Learning (PEDAL) hub at Cambridge University and – more importantly to us – LEGO® Professor of Play!

The theme of the event was how play influences a positive life outcome. As a provider of LEGO workshops in museums and schools, we knew – or, at least, heavily suspected – the link between play and cognitive ability in children not just later in childhood, but also how it may affect development later in life. Professor Ramchandani talked on his research in this field, and I’ve picked a few key aspects of his excellent talk, which was hosted by NESTA in Scotland.

Different rewards from play

There are a range and variety of ways to play – fun and exciting; calm play; pretend play; building blocks play (we can recommend a brand of those construction bricks, if you’re stuck!). “Don’t restrict their play” – all types are important, and contribute to well-rounded humans in society. A recurring aspect from Professor Ramchandani’s talk is

Long term effects of a playful childhood

A key discussion focused on how you separate play from other aspects of childhood, and measure the outcomes. Professor Ramchandani’s outlook was that perhaps you can’t measure, fully – it is “slightly artificial”. Finally, the more opportunity to play outside children had, the better their physical health has been later in life.

Play and COVID-19

Of course, we couldn’t talk in 2020 without mentioning COVID-19! Children have missed school during lockdowns worldwide, and are missing social interaction – a significant gap in their childhood, potentially. Children are not interacting in the same way, as they’re not necessarily seeing each other physically, so can’t play the games they usually do. Some children are actually performing better without school; the school system (here in the UK) isn’t great for everyone!

Thanks again to the team at NESTA Scotland for organising, and for the invitation!