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Why play is important to children
Play for children is an absorbing, satisfying and joyful experience. As adults, when we observe children at play we often long to remember memories from our own childhoods, where we were able to abandon ourselves totally to the interests of the moment. Have you ever watched a young child hover over an insect or try to make intricate pathways with a stick in the soil? If you have, you have observed how all-consuming play can be for a child. In play the rest of the world is shut out and the child's senses gravitate to the object of play. Total immersion is evident and only re-enters the real world when someone or something from outside his/her play cocoon commands his/her attention.
Play, for a child provides break from the world and opens up a new world. As adults, we must remember that no matter how eager we may be to provide children with purposeful play opportunities in order to enhance their development to lead to learning that one of the greatest gifts of childhood is the ability to pursue seemingly insignificant interests and explore tiny details to one's heart content. Play is a fabulous, renewable resource in the life of a child that can be resumed at any moment. Play may follow any path the child desires and will end when the child decides to move onto something else or when the demands of living in the world intrude on the child's own agenda.
Children need to be provided with many opportunities for uninterrupted, spontaneous, freely chosen, absorbing play. The ability to release oneself to the pleasure, challenge and fascination of the moment, to focus on details or tasks, however minor by adult standards, is a child's right. Children who are not given the opportunity to play may be forced much too soon into the world or immediate demands, anxiety over things they cannot control, and experiences they are unable to comprehend.