Play is one of the most transformative forces in a child’s life. It’s how children explore and understand the world around them. It’s how they articulate their hopes and dreams, learn to communicate and interact with others, express their emotions, and grow into adulthood.

But not all children have the chance to play.

Global research shows that 78% of children say adults do not always think playing is important, and 73% of children don’t believe adults take play seriously. Poverty, conflict, displacement, and discrimination further limit children’s ability to play. But play is one of the most effective ways children learn, cope with stress, and build skills to meet life’s challenges.   As children around the world struggle with learning loss and emotional distress, the need to protect their right to play is more urgent than ever.


In March 2024, the United Nations declared a new International Day of Play, with 140 member states supporting. Right To Play worked with civil society and corporate partners to lead the campaign for an International Day of Play, united in a grounding belief that play is a fundamental right and key to children’s learning and development, and that it needs to be on the agenda of governments and civil society actors as worthy of protection and investment.

The International Day of Play happens annually on June 11th. It is a day for people of all ages to play together and celebrate the power play has to erase divisions, build trust and connection, and inspire curiosity and creativity.

The International Day of Play acknowledges and celebrates the need to respect, protect, and fulfil every child’s right to play.


For 25 years, Right To Play has been a global leader in protecting, educating, and empowering children to rise above adversity through the power of play.

We reach millions of children each year in some of the most difficult places on earth, helping them to stay in school and graduate, resist exploitation, overcome prejudice, heal from trauma, and develop the skills they need to thrive. We do this by harnessing play, one of the most fundamental forces in a child's life, to teach children the critical skills they need to dismantle barriers and embrace opportunities, in learning and in life.

Play Specialist Ellen Fesseha shares how children learn and develop through play.


Children learn through play. When learning at school is joyful, meaningful, and engaging, children better retain knowledge, stay focused, and stay motivated to keep learning – both inside and outside the classroom.

Bernard, a Right To Play-trained teacher in Burundi, uses play to engage his students as active participants in the learning process, which supports their academic skills development.

"When I teach, I use games, and those games help children to be more focused and follow along in class,” he says. “The subject matter becomes easier for them to understand.”

It’s easier to learn new things when the process is fun! Watch how students play their way through a math lesson led by their teacher, Bernard.


Play promotes feelings of well-being that ease stress, fear, and anxiety. In times of crisis, play helps children find a sense of normalcy and a path to recovery from grief and trauma.

Evergreen interstitial-Hayat

When conflict in Ethiopia made its way into her community, Hayat was forced to abandon her home. After a harrowing journey that brought her to a refugee settlement, Hayat enrolled at the local school, where her Right To Play-trained teacher led play-based lessons that helped her catch up on learning, make friends, and process the trauma she experienced.

“I am happy when we play games; it relaxes me and helps me concentrate on my studies.” − Hayat, Grade 4 student, Ethiopia


Play is one of the best ways children learn to get along with and understand others. Communicating, solving problems, and regulating emotions come up naturally during play, equipping children to build strong relationships, manage stress, and channel their resilience to face a complex world.

In this 360-degree video from Rwanda, students and their teacher, Jean, demonstrate a game that reinforces communication and problem-solving skills.

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