New Research from Boston Children’s Hospital and Hasbro Show Board and Card Games Build School Readiness, Positive Development

The Boston Children’s Hospital’s Center on Media and Child Health, in partnership with Hasbro, released research today showing that play is associated with positive development in children. 

Specifically, the research found that board and card games were associated with school readiness and other positive outcomes, including a larger vocabulary in the U.S., and with less aggression, less sadness, fewer attention problems and more positive social behaviors in Mexico. 

The multi-phase research project, which began in 2016, enrolled 327 children between the ages of 2 ½ and 8-years-old in the U.S. and Mexico, and evaluated how different types of play affected their developmental outcomes. The project concluded in 2018.

CMCH founder and director Michael Rich said, “Based on the initial findings from our research, our prescription for happy, school-ready kids is more letter play, more number play, more board game play, more active play, and more play with their parents.”

Other findings included:

  • Active play was associated with less sadness:
    • In both countries, active play was associated with less sadness, anxiety and fearfulness.
    • In the U.S., active play was also associated with less aggression and fewer attention problems.
    • In Mexico, there was also an association with more positive behaviors and more school readiness.
  • Letter and number play were linked to school readiness and other positive behaviors:
    • The research found that letter and number play were associated with school readiness in both countries.
    • In the U.S., both letter play and number play were associated with less sadness.
    • Additionally, in Mexico, letter and number play were associated with more social competence (such as respect and empathy), and to a lesser extent, less aggression.
  • Play with adults was associated with better memory:
    • The research found that in the U.S., the more frequently children played with adults in the household and directed the play, the better their memory became.

“The team at CMCH developed pioneering methodology for this research which goes far deeper than any past academic research on play, and we hope these results will offer caregivers, teachers and medical professionals useful guidance on which types of play serve the developmental needs of children,” said John Frascotti, President and Chief Operating Officer, Hasbro.

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