We've all heard the term, "Oh, that's child's play." It implies something is easy, frivolous and unimportant in the overall scheme of things. But to a child, child's play is essential to their mental, social, emotional, and physical development. We all know that children like to play. But what can get lost in the chaos of parenting is the importance of play in your child's life. Playing provides a means for energy to be put to use. It strengthens and refines small and large motor skills, and it builds stamina and strength. Sensory learning develops mostly through play. Children possess a natural curiosity, even if it leads to eating dirt. They, explore, learn and make sense out of their environment by playing. Playing also enables children to know things about the world and to discover information essential to learning. Through allowing children to play, they learn basic concepts such as colors, counting, how to build things, and how to solve problems. Thinking and reasoning skills are at work every time a child engages in some type of play. Children learn to relate to one another, negotiate roles, share, and obey rules. They also learn how to belong to a group and how to be part of a team. A child also obtains and retains friends through it. They learn about fairness, and through pretending, learn appropriate ways of expressing emotion, such as anger, fear, frustration, stress, and discover ways of dealing with these feelings. So encourage your child's play. Color pictures, construct lego ships, build buildings and imaginary cities with blocks, and of course, a blanket tent in the middle of the living room is a must! As a father of four all under the age of seven, it's easy for me to forget the importance of playing. So often, I can get caught up in keeping order and structure at home, that the thought of four kids playing can seem like a daunting task when considering the thought of potential rivelry. But in fact, I've discovered that encouraging them to play has actually led to the "order" that makes parenting manageable. The greatest moments in parenting come when I see my kids playing together, laughing, and fully wrapped up in an imaginary world. As Parents, our job is to not restrict play, rather teach them how to play well, so that everyone is having fun! And as we all know, childhood is fleeting, so let them enjoy being a kid while they are one! Who knows, you might start rekindling your childhood imagination again, also.