Children are intrinsically motivated
The impulse to play comes from a natural desire to understand the world. This play impulse is as
strong as your child’s desire for food or sleep. It is this intrinsic motivation that allows a child to
regulate her own feelings and desires in order to keep playing. Because children eventually find it
more important to be part of play with their friends than to satisfy their own wants and needs at
that moment, children learn self-control. Self-control has been shown to lead to success in later
years, especially in today’s information age, where distractions are part of daily life.
Children become immersed in the moment
In true play, children are so fully engaged that they lose awareness of their surroundings, time,
and space. In this risk-free atmosphere where reality is suspended, children have the security and
safety they need to experiment, try new ideas, and investigate the laws of nature. Although they
are immersed in their play, children still can recognize reality versus fantasy, something parents
often wonder about.
Play is spontaneous, not scripted
Often, play is totally unplanned. Other times, play is planned but a child impulsively makes a
change. One child changes his mind, or perhaps a toy does not cooperate. This sense of the unknown
provides children with opportunities to develop flexibility in their thinking and decision making,
which is a vital life skill.
Play is enjoyable
Play always has an emotional response attached to it. Without this emotional connection, the
experience is simply an activity; it is not PLAY. Enjoyment is the direct result of engaging in play.
It is FUN! These five essential elements of play outline why play provides your child with a rich
experience. And isn’t that what we want for our children, to develop play memories that will
become the “good old days”?