Tamariki School

Websites, Books, Research

Articles, Blogs, Videos which might interest you

Websites and General Resources


 The Ministry of Youth Development is committed to the principle of best practice in the youth sector. Youth development best practice by its very nature is constantly evolving.The Ministry partnered with the Youth Sector to produce the Youth Development Strategy Aotearoa, based on peer-reviewed best practice evidence-based research. The Strategy outlines six principles that support our young people’s development. To continue reading..


 Frameworks for bicultural education – He anga m? te m?tauranga ahurea rua bu professor Mason Durie
Rangimarie Turuki (Rose) Pere (1991) developed a M?ori educational framework or model, te Aorangi (the universe), that illustrates the complexity of te ao M?ori.

Pere’s model integrates the dimensions of wairuatanga (spirituality), tinana (the body), hinengaro (the mind), and whanaungatanga (the extended family). It also includes mana, the integrity and prestige of the individual; mauri, the life principle, which includes language; and whatumanawa, the expression of feelings. To continue reading...


Definition of play, PGrey, Psychology Today

1. Play is self-chosen and self-directed; players are always free to quit.
Play is, first and foremost, an expression of freedom. It is what one wants to do as opposed to what one is obliged to do. The joy of play is the ecstatic feeling of liberty. Play is not always accompanied by smiles and laughter, nor are smiles and laughter always signs of play; but play is always accompanied by a feeling of “Yes, this is what I want to do right now.” Players are free agents, not pawns in someone else’s game.

Players not only choose to play or not play, but they also direct their own actions during play. As I will argue below, play always involves rules of some sort, but all players must freely accept the rules, and if rules are changed then all players must agree to the changes. That is why play is the most democratic of all activities. In social play (play involving more than one player), one player may emerge for a period as the leader, but only at the will of all the others. Every rule a leader proposes must be approved, at least tacitly, by all of the other players. To read more click here


Why we need to stop hijacking children’s play under the guise of interest based learning
Lately I have been doing a lot of thinking about interest based learning. As someone who worked with young children in the early 2000’s, when the concept of “emergent curriculum” was quite popular, I have always been a proponent of interest based learning. I always felt that by observing the children and understanding what they were interested in, I would be able to plan a program that facilitated those interests. Yet, over the last few years as my understanding of play has deepened to a level I perhaps never thought possible, I find myself critical of the concept of interest based learning and to be quite honest, of the whole concept of a program. To read more click here



To read more click here


 CASEL website 

What is SEL?
Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.



In this episode, Jerry interviews Peter Gray, a Research Professor at Boston College. They discuss the history of modern education, the psychological impacts of the traditional school system, and why self-directed education works. Peter also discusses his new organization, the Alliance for Self-Directed Education.


 Why adults need to stop controling how children play 


To read more click here


 To read more click here.


Website for the American Journal of Play – it contains free full text for many peer-reviewed articles on play. In its own words from the ‘About’ page:

An interdisciplinary publication of The Strong, the American Journal of Play® is a forum for discussing the history, science, and culture of play. The Journal aims to increase awareness and understanding of the role of play in learning and human development and the ways in which play illuminates cultural history.”

“The American Journal of Play is peer-reviewed and written in a straightforward style for wide readership of educators, psychologists, play therapists, sociologists, anthropologists, folklorists, historians, museum professionals, toy and game designers, policy makers, and others who consider play for a variety of reasons and from various perspectives.”

It is an invaluable resource for the latest thinking by researchers and practitioners involved in the study of children’s play and its role in learning, creativity and distinctive aspects of human culture and society itself. To read more go to http://www.journalofplay.org


 Play in our species serves many valuable purposes. It is a means by which children develop their physical, intellectual, emotional, social, and moral capacities. It is a means of creating and preserving friendships. It also provides a state of mind that, in adults as well as children, is uniquely suited for high-level reasoning, insightful problem solving, and all sorts of creative endeavors. This essay is the first in a series I plan to post on The Value of Play. The subject of this first installment is the definition of play. Clues to play’s value lie in the definition.

Most of this essay is about the defining characteristics of play, but before listing them there are three general points that I think are worth keeping in mind. The first point is that the characteristics of play all have to do with motivation and mental attitude, not with the overt form of the behavior. Two people might be throwing a ball, or pounding nails, or typing words on a computer, and one might be playing while the other is not. To tell which one is playing and which one is not, you have to infer from their expressions and the details of their actions something about why they are doing what they are doing and their attitude toward it ... To read more go here


  https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn This website (hosted by ‘Psychology Today’) that features articles selected by Professor Peter Gray, research professor at Boston College (U.S.) and author of the book: ‘Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life

Gray, P. (2013). Free to learn: Why unleashing the instinct to play will make our children happier, more self-reliant, and better students for life. New York: Basic Books.

·         Argues for free play as the best way to provide children with the skills needed to succeed in both education and life. Includes evolutionary and biological research on the role of play in human development and functioning. The book also criticizes modern schooling as having reduced both freedom and opportunities for children to play. Summarises much of the literature on play, creativity, autonomy and intrinsic motivation.

Welcome to the World of Self-Directed Education   PeterG
You have just entered into a remarkable world of ideas about education — ideas that make enormous sense, are much supported by research, and are influencing the educational thought and practice of an ever-growing number of families throughout the world. I am Peter Gray, research professor of psychology at Boston College. This website includes some of my own research findings, as well as conclusions from many other sources, about how children best learn and about alternatives to conventional schooling that have proven successful for many thousands of young people. I, and the whole team that created this site, welcome you and hope you will explore the site to discover more about home-based, self-directed learning, community resource centers, and democratic schools.


Peter Gray is also associated with this website which provides research and resources on alternatives to ‘forced’ schooling, including Democratic Schools.


Pellegrini, A. D. (2009). The role of play in human development. New York: Oxford University Press.

·         A book that provides a thorough overview of play in the context of human development


Huizinga, J. (1949). Homo ludens: A study of the play-element in culture. Routledge and Keagan Paul: Boston.

·         This is a classic book on play that established it as a significant field of research and scholarship. Huizinga argued that play was central to human culture.


 Bodrova, E. & Leong, D.J. (2015). Vygotskyan and post-Vygotskyan views on children’s play. American Journal of Play, 7(3), 371-387. (The link to the paper is on the website linked to here).

·         Provides a good overview of play as seen from the developmental psychology of Lev Vygotsky.


Peter Gray

Peter Gray, Ph.D., research professor at Boston College, is author of Free to Learn (Basic Books, 2013) and Psychology (Worth Publishers, a college textbook now in its 7th edition).  He has conducted and published research in comparative, evolutionary, developmental, and educational psychology. He did his undergraduate study at Columbia University and earned a Ph.D. in biological sciences at Rockefeller University. His current research and writing focus primarily on children's natural ways of learning and the life-long value of play. To read some of his blogs and research click here



Pellegrini, A.D. (2003). Perceptions and functions of play and real fighting in early adolescence. Child Development, 74(5), 1522-1533. (Can be read online for free but requires MyJSTOR registration first)

·         Looks at the role of rough-and-tumble play both within one sex (boys or girls) and between the sexes (mixed boys and girls)


Pellegrini, A. D., Dupuis, D., & Smith, P. K. (2007). Play in evolution and development. Developmental Review, 27(2), 261-276.

·         Provides an overview of the role of play from an evolutionary and developmental perspective

Smith, P.K. & Pellegrini, A.D. (2008). Learning through play. In Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development. Centre of Excellence for Early Childhood Development.

·         In this Encyclopedia entry the authors “define play, review the main types of play and their developmental benefits in various areas.” It’s a readable introduction and overview of types of play and its benefits.


Review of the Role of Play in Development and Learning

In the interests of balance, an important review of the effects of pretend play (as opposed to physical play or ‘free play’ – playing organized by children themselves) in the journal Psychological Bulletin by Angeline Lillard and colleagues (2013, p. 27) (Note: no free full text link available) concluded that:

Despite over 40 years of research examining how pretend play might help development, there is little evidence that it has a crucial role; equifinality and epiphenomenalism have as much if not more support. With equifinality, pretend play would be just one of many routes to a positive developmental outcome. With epiphenomenalism, pretend play would often go along with a positive developmental outcome, but for extraneous reasons; it would not itself serve any causal role in that outcome.

Their review, as mentioned, only considered pretend play and did not cover physical play, rule-governed play (where ‘games’ are played with agreed rules), or ‘free play’. As importantly, it was primarily a review that focused on the rigour of the studies in the area rather than a definitive conclusion about the causal role of pretend play (as opposed to other forms of play) in learning and developmental outcomes. That is, it critically reviewed how well conducted the studies of pretend play were. It concluded that the studies were not sufficiently rigorous to provide definitive evidence that pretend play directly causes positive developmental outcomes. (A draft chapter by the same authors considering these methodological problems is Lillard, A. S.; Dore, R.A.; Hopkins, E.J. & Smith, E.D. (in press). Challenges to research on play: Mending the methodological mistakes. Chapter to appear in: J. J. Johnson & S. G. Eberle (Eds.), Handbook of the Study of Play. Lanham MD: Rowman & Littlefield.)

Yet, even after coming to this seemingly negative conclusion about the developmental outcomes from pretend play Lillard and colleagues end their review with the following comment (Lillard et al., 2013, pp. 27-28):

Meanwhile, the lack of existing evidence that pretend play helps development should not be taken as an allowance for school programs to employ traditional teacher-centered instructional approaches that research has clearly shown are inferior for young children. The hands-on, child-driven educational methods sometimes referred to as “playful learning” (Hirsh-Pasek et al., 2009) are the most positive means yet known to help young children’s development.

It also needs to be remembered that many advocates of ‘free play’ emphasise the freedom (i.e., autonomy) of children as being the source of the benefits of education that emphasises the rights of children to determine what they do. Lillard et al. (2013, p. ) agree that the freedom of ‘child-centred’ educational settings may well be the most important aspect of these settings (as opposed to pretend play itself):

What else about child-centered classrooms leads to more positive developmental outcomes if it turns out not to be the pretend play? Child-centered classrooms differ from teacher-centered ones in several qualities. Like pretend play, child-centered classrooms often provide free choice, interesting hands-on activities for which the child is intrinsically motivated, and peer interactions. Unlike pretend play, these elements have been shown in independent research to be consistently associated with more positive outcomes (see summaries of the literatures in Lillard, 2005).”

In other words, while pretend play itself may not be the cause of positive learning and developmental outcomes many of the properties it shares with child-centred classrooms (such as free choice, hands-on activities, intrinsic motivation and peer interactions) have been consistently shown, in the research, to be associated with these positive outcomes.

In practical terms, then, educational settings that allow for considerable opportunities for play are settings which also include the properties that are known to be associated with positive learning and developmental outcomes.

[Lillard, A. S., Lerner, M. D., Hopkins, E. J., Dore, R. A., Smith, E. D., & Palmquist, C. M. (2013). The impact of pretend play on children's development: A review of the evidence. Psychological Bulletin, 139(1), 1–34.]


Children who spend more time in less structured activities—from playing outside to reading books to visiting the zoo—are better able to set their own goals and take actions to meet those goals without prodding from adults, according to a new study by the University of Colorado Boulder.

The study, published online in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, also found that children who participate in more structured activities—including soccer practice, piano lessons and homework—had poorer “self-directed executive function,” a measure of the ability to set and reach goals independently. To read more click here


 To watch the video click here


Children should be allowed to get bored, expert says

Dr Belton said children needed time to stand and stare
Children should be allowed to get bored so they can develop their innate ability to be creative, an education expert says.
Dr Teresa Belton told the BBC cultural expectations that children should be constantly active could hamper the development of their imagination
She quizzed author Meera Syal and artist Grayson Perry about how boredom had aided their creativity as children.
Syal said boredom made her write, while Perry said it was a "creative state".
The senior researcher at the University of East Anglia's School of Education and Lifelong Learning interviewed a number of authors, artists and scientists in her exploration of the effects of boredom. To read more click here


 click here for the National Institue for Play


  Ted Talks Play can lead to inovation and inventions


Importance of play: Why young kids need less classtime and more playtime at school - findings from a 20 year study


Former teacher: 7 ways schools are creating 'empty' children - Intellectual take out blog



Understanding How Our Brains Learn - Creative by Nature


Importance of developing social skills: How Children's Social Competence Impacts Their Well-Being in Adulthood



 What Fear Does - Life Learning Magazine


How to Strengthen Your Child’s Emotional Intelligence

When emotions run high, people do and say things they normally would not. When you’re a young child, this is what you do all the time. 
Emotional self-regulation, a large component of emotional intelligence, is the ability to manage one’s experience and expression of emotions. With practice, children improve their capacity for emotional self-regulation. By age four, most children start to use strategies to eliminate disturbing external stimuli. In other words, they cover their eyes when they’re scared and plug their ears when they hear a loud noise. To read more click here

Why You Should Cheer on Your Daredevil

Most parents cringe at the sight of children climbing way up high in an oak tree, swinging upside down on the monkey bars, or going up the slide. These scenarios are scary for parents, but research shows that this kind of play is actually evolutionarily beneficial for children.
Playing from heights, rough and tumble play, hiding or being alone, and playing with high speed are all ways in which children engage in “risky play,” which has a multitude of benefits when done in safe environments.  
“Risky play has been shown to be beneficial to children’s development by helping them cope with stressful situations, learn how to follow-through, improve social interaction skills, increase creativity, learn about human mortality, assist in understanding their limitations, recognize areas for improvement, and help form positive, pro-active attitudes.”
Hold your breath, mom, and dad, here are some other research-driven benefits of letting your child take some risks in play: Click here to read more


The Benefits of Free Play May Not Be What You Think 

The importance of play to children’s learning, development and physical activity levels is regularly cited as a reason to provide more opportunities for it. Adrian Voce suggests it may be even more fundamental than that, and cautions against instrumental designs on what children do naturally.
In a sense, the term free play is a misnomer: its frequent use by researchers, advocates and practitioners more an indication of how widely play tends to be misunderstood by policymakers – and possibly society in general – than a choice of words to identify and distinguish a particular form of play from ‘play’ in general.
“If [children] are not, in essence, freely choosing what to do or how to do it, then they are not really playing at all.”

Shyness in early childhood with Dr Robert Coplan

  Sonya McIntyre on September 17, 2016
Developmental psychologist Dr Robert Coplan from Carleton University in Ottawa, discusses shyness in early childhood. What is shyness, and what are some strategies for supporting shy children?

Play Is The Thing - Educational Leadership Project

Tuesday, 4 April 2017
Back to basics, back to nature.
For awhile I have been thinking about children and adults being able to tinker with their own ideas.  Generally my thoughts have been about play based learning until attending the Natural Phenomena Conference which shifted my inquiry to the outdoor environments that support children's tinkering and learning.  I have possibly written a about the importance of outdoor or nature play on this blog in the past, but more as an aside, now I would like to think about this more in-depth.  So come with me on a journey into looking at back to basics, back to nature.  Firstly, I would like to start with a story:

Play Makes Us Human IV: When Work Is Play

Is your work play? It can be.
One of the first and most often reinforced lessons that children learn in school is that work and play are opposites. Work is what one has to do; play is what one wants to do. Work is burdensome; play is fun. Work is essential; play is trivial. But when we leave school and go on to the "real world," at least some of us, the lucky ones, discover that work is not the opposite of play. In fact, work can be play, or at least it can be imbued with a high degree of playfulness.
When work is play, it is humanizing. It brings out our best qualities and makes us feel good. When work is toil--the opposite of play--it can be dehumanizing. We become beasts of burden, whether the burdens are borne mostly by our muscles or our minds. What are the qualities that can make our work play rather than toil? To read more click here

Irish Times News

Primary school shake-up to focus on ‘play-led’ learning

Children would not study traditional subjects until aged 10, under new proposals

Tue, Mar 28, 2017, 19:44 Updated: Wed, Mar 29, 2017, 11:17
Carl O'Brien
 Minister for Education Richard Bruton: Proposed reforms to primary schools are based loosely on some of the features of top-performing education systems in countries such as Finland, as well as new research on how children learn. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times
Children at primary schools would not study traditional subjects until as late as 10 years of age, under proposals being considered by policymakers.
Instead, there would be a much greater emphasis on creative play during the early years of primary school, and broader areas of learning in later years.
The reforms are based loosely on some of the features of top-performing education systems in countries such as Finland, as well as new research on how children learn.

2-Year-Old Not Listening? Try This Remarkable Tip

I’m not going to sugar coat this for you. I struggled horribly with my 2-year-old not listening. As a mom who researches things like how to make kids listen and how to be a positive parent to a strong willed child, the twos about did me in.
Yes, really.
But here’s the real shocker…
I spent eight years working as a critical care nurse, where my career was built around surviving high intensity situations.
I used to code patients, do CPR, push drugs, shock people, and simultaneously run multiple medications and machines while never breaking one bead of sweat.
Then I had a 2-year-old not listening.
And I learned something profound. Parenting a strong willed toddler was far harder than my hardest day in the ICU.
The twos are hard for a reason.
Just to be clear, a two-year-old not listening is not because a two-year-old is terrible. Teaching a two-year-old to listen is hard because children are experiencing the greatest brain development of their life.
This page was last modified on: 21 Nov 2017 20:40:32