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Remembering Your Play Experiences e DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET C h a p t er 1 Remembering your childhood play experiences will help you empathize with chil- dren as they seek out new friends, latch on to special play themes and toys, and experience hurt feelings over being excluded. Your play history is part of what you bring to your interactions with children. When you recall your play experiences, you may remember playing in your neighborhood or home with little or no adult supervision. Perhaps your outdoor play included natural materials such as mud to represent cooking, leaves to rep- resent fish, and porch railings to represent horses. With your friends, you could have acted out elaborate themes of war or adventure and not wanted to stop when called in for supper. You and your friends might have taken risks by climbing, running, hiding, and crawling on the ground, resulting in physical injuries. You may remember hurtful words, fights, and being left out as you worked out your conflicts with other children. The unstructured play just described has great benefits for children and often occupies a special place as adults recall play memories. However, you cannot dupli- cate this type of play in your learning environment. Safety regulations and your active presence in the learning environment mean the play experiences of the chil- dren in your setting will be different. The children may still have play experiences in their homes and neighborhoods similar to the ones you remember from your childhood, but because you provide structure and supervision, they will have more support to work out conflicts, more planned play experiences, and more adult input in your setting. You can still provide some of the benefits of less structured play while keeping children safe both emotionally and physically. The following chart highlights how you can bring the benefits of less structured play into your learning environment. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL 9