The Joy of Play

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"Play is the child's response to life." - Anonymous

A puppy chases its tail. A kitten pursues a ball of string. A young frog leaps from lily pad to lily pad. In just about every animal species, play is universal.

Indeed, children of every culture, from every corner of the globe, engage in play -- from the African boy who makes music with a hand-carved plaything, to the North American girl who cuddles a store-bought teddy bear. And while there never has been a greater array of toys available than today, anthropologists have found evidence of toys dating as far back as there is record of human life. Though play differs from species to species, culture to culture, generation to generation, it is clearly an instinctual, essential part of growing up.

While play has existed since ancient times, only recently have we come to appreciate its importance to a child's development. Too often, we dismiss playtime as simply entertainment for our children. Yet, experts consider play to be a child's work. Truly, there is no more constructive pastime for a child. While play is the essential joy of youth, it is also the primary way in which children learn about themselves, others and their world. Through play, children develop the physical, mental, social, emotional and creative skills needed for life.

Given the many benefits of play, parents and caregivers naturally want to make the most of it for their children - to choose appropriate toys, encourage positive play experiences and, above all, ensure safe play.
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