This paper presents data from the Irish Neighbourhood Play Study that explored children’s engagement in play. The data raises concerns around recorded instances of no-play in play environments. The instances of no-play were recorded during peak play time periods including weekend and afterschool hours. This data raises the critical question: Are today’s children being afforded sufficient time to play? Both the quality of opportunity to play and the quantity of time afforded to children to engage in play are important factors in children’s learning and development (Fisher, Hirsh-Pasek, Golinkoff, Singer & Berk, 2011; Whitebread, 2012). The data from the Irish Neighbourhood Play Study indicates that children may not be spending enough time playing in their neighbourhoods. In discussing the data, this paper evolves to explore the thesis that schools should attend to this absence of play by providing play-based education. A justification for play-based approaches within the school experience is underpinned by an evidence-based defense of the centrality of play within children’s academic and holistic development.


The Irish Neighbourhood Play Study, play, early childhood education, play curriculum, play-based learning.


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