Growing children need to play. It’s one of the most important ways they learn. From birth to age six, young brains develop at their most rapid pace—and evidence shows that infants and children are constantly learning, connecting, and engaging with their world through positive playful experiences.
Playful learning is a powerhouse—boosting cognitive, physical, and social-emotional development. Plus, it lays the foundation for children to become creative and engaged learners for life.
Play is central to childhood around the world, but often parents and caregivers are unaware of its benefits. Since 2015, Sesame Workshop has partnered with the LEGO Foundation to combine our proven content creation and media expertise with the LEGO Foundation’s commitment to and experience with play-based learning. Together, we tailor programs across cultures, teaching caregivers how play helps children learn and grow—while helping them guide play in meaningful ways.
Through initiatives like Play Well & Be Happy in South Africa’s Eastern Cape and Play Every Day in South Africa, Mexico, and India, we’ve brought entertaining and educational media—plus joyful play experiences—to children and their caregivers, giving them tools to transform everyday moments into playful learning experiences and helping to set children on the right path for life.
Now, through investments by the LEGO Foundation, we are deepening our engagement in South Africa and expanding our reach to bring play-based learning to millions of children impacted by displacement.
The scope of the international refugee crisis is staggering: tens of millions of children are displaced worldwide. Because affected children typically have few opportunities to play, a crucial pathway to early learning can be disrupted. So, Sesame Workshop, powered by the LEGO Foundation’s audacious $100 million investment, will support millions of children and caregivers impacted by the Rohingya and Syrian refugee crises, ensuring their access to play-based educational tools that can help them overcome adversity and thrive.
Working with BRAC in Bangladesh and the International Rescue Committee in the Syrian response region, we’ll reach displaced children as well as those in host communities with quality early education and learning through play opportunities delivered through both mass media and direct services.
And, by designing a scalable, replicable program, we hope to transform the humanitarian sector’s approach to early childhood development, establishing play-based learning as a crucial way to support children affected by conflict.
In South Africa, we are continuing our partnership with the LEGO Foundation, with a five year, $10 million grant. As part of the new initiative, new Takalani Sesame segments and parent-facing videos promoting play-based learning will be featured on both TV and digital platforms. The initiative will also expand outreach programs in the Eastern Cape, Gauteng, and Free State provinces to help teachers, caregivers, and social workers facilitate meaningful play that contributes to children’s learning and development.
As with all of our initiatives, research is key. Through formative research embedded into each phase, we improve our activities and materials so that caregivers and children find them appealing, relatable, and easy to include in their daily lives.
Summative research helps us evaluate our effectiveness. Play Every Day has already been proven to help caregivers understand play’s educational value and increase their willingness to be silly with children at playtime. In South Africa, caregivers increased frequency of play by 15% as compared to the previous week, with an increase of 23% in India.
When you support Sesame Workshop, you’re making a positive difference in the lives of children around the world. Join us!