He began thinking about the power of play during his time as the chair of the board of the Boston Children's Museum in the United States.
“I observed children engaging in joyful play with each other and their parents during those years, and I realised that our culture has devalued play," he says.
Dr Yogman and researchers like him also have a deeper goal for their research.
“We are seeking to restore balance in children’s lives so that playful learning, art, music, theatre and recess are not squeezed out by a preoccupation with test taking and false expectations of what promotes adult success," he says.
What is play?
As The Power of Play points out, the definition of play is somewhat elusive. But most experts agree that the activity is “intrinsically motivated, entails active engagement, and results in joyful discovery”.
The play we so often see our children engrossed in is actually building their expertise in problem-solving, collaboration and creativity: executive functioning skills that will serve them well as adults in the 21st-century.
Play can be categorised in various ways.
“It can be child initiated or adult initiated, but hopefully it is child directed,” Dr Yogman says.
While the report stresses that child-led play is crucial to help children explore their world, this can take various forms.
There’s object play, seen in infants or young children exploring an object by learning about its properties.
Physical play also starts young, when infants joyfully play pat-a-cake or young children delight in a safe "rough and tumble" style of play. (The latter is an act, the report notes, allowing children to take risks in a relatively safe environment, fostering the skills needed for communication, negotiation and the development of emotional intelligence.)
Outdoor play adds an excellent opportunity to build sensory skills, while pretend play can help children negotiate rules and learn how to cooperate.
Regardless of the style, it seems there’s never a time when play isn’t helpful.
“Play is especially important in stressful times for children, since the safe nurturing relationships that develop through play can buffer stress and adversity," Dr Yogman says.
How much is enough?
When it comes to a recipe for play, Dr Yogman says the experts agree, and their prescription is simple.
"Play with your child every day!"