Increasing parents' verbal responsiveness and children's everyday conversations with adults can help in building and supporting children's language development

Project: Research project

Project Details


The Playful Learning Landscapes project will engage community stakeholders to reimagine spaces as learning opportunities outside of formal school environment. This project will help transform three neighborhoods in and around Chicago into an integrated model of a playful learning city where programs, policy, and communities support active learning and demonstrate the Playful Learning Landscapes concept. This is a collaborative project to transform everyday spaces where families work, play and live into opportunities that prompt learning through family interactions. We want to expand parents' skill sets and positively shape how they interact with their children every day. Developmental science has demonstrated that guided play can advance cognitive skills (like language and reading), social skills (like emotion regulation), and quantitative skills (like math and spatial reasoning); translating these scientific results to parents can help them raise successful children. Simple everyday interactions with young children like describing objects seen during a walk or bus ride, singing songs, or telling stories can build their vocabularies, prepare them for school, and lay a strong foundation for lifelong learning. On a larger scale, it will educate the public about the value of research and the beneficial role of science in our lives. In collaboration with Metropolitan Family Services (MFS) in Chicago we will develop a Playful Learning Landscape project modeled after the successful work of Dr. Kathy Hirsh-Pasek in Philadelphia. This project is a collaboration between scientists, MFS and community stakeholders in Aurora, North Lawndale and Little Village neighborhoods. The goal is to create convenient, accessible opportunities for parents and caregivers to engage children in meaningful learning during everyday tasks like waiting for services or doing laundry at a laundry mat. The MFS Director will be responsible for organizing and facilitating the neighborhood meetings, working with the lead architects, business owners, and doctor's offices. They will guide the implementation of the installation in the communities. I describe three potential installations that were successful in Philadelphia and we will implement similar designs. The key factors are preserving the principles of learning science while allowing degrees of freedom that incorporate preferences of the local cultures and climates.
Effective start/end date10/1/186/30/21


  • Metropolitan Family Services (Agmt 10/1/2018)


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