In a recent article in Scientific American, Scott Barry Kaufman, Scientific Director of the Imagination Institute at the University of Pennsylvania, notes that people often think of play in the form of images of young children at recess engaging in games of tag, ball, using slides, swings, and physically exploring their environments. But physical play isn’t the only kind of play. Over the last 75 years a number of theorists and researchers have identified the values of what might be called ‘imaginative play’ as a vital component to the normal development of a child. Systematic research has increasingly demonstrated a series of clear benefits of children’s engagement in pretend games from the ages of about two and one half through ages six or seven. Actual studies have demonstrated cognitive benefits such as increases in language usage including subjunctives, future tenses, and adjectives.
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