Why is Imaginative Play Important in Early Childhood?

Exploring the reasons why imaginative play is so important in Early Childhood.

Why is imaginative or pretend play important in Early Childhood? We see that some of the leaders in this field, Piaget and Vygotsky place great importance in imaginative play in early childhood. 
'There is no activity for which young children are better prepared than fantasy play.  Nothing is more dependable and risk-free, and the dangers are only pretend.'  Paley, 2004
Why is imaginative play important in early childhood? Exploring why pretend play is important in childhood using research based evidence | you clever monkey