Does your child love pretend? Do you often walk into them reenacting the recent episode of a kid’s fictional show? Well, you’ve got yourself a super imaginary kid and that’s a good thing as it benefits their cognitive and motor skills.
The funny fact is that pretend play can spur child development while learning new dramatic play ideas, activities, and games. While creating a restaurant together, clomping around in grown-up shoes, or twirling around with friends in fairytale land, children are learning to solve problems, coordinate, cooperate and think flexibly.
How Exactly DOES IMAGINATIVE PLAY HELP THE KIDS?
1. Children learn about themselves and the world.
Dramatic play experiences are some of the first ways children learn about their likes and dislikes, their interests, and their abilities. They experiment with role-playing and work to make sense of what they’ve observed. Just watch children playing with dolls to see examples of this. Dolls often become versions of the child himself and are a safe way for children to express new ideas and feelings.
2. Children work out confusing, scary, or new life issues.
Have you ever witnessed children pretending to visit the doctor? One child dutifully holds the mock stethoscope as the others line up for a check-up. More often than not someone gets ‘shots’. This is a child’s way of exploring an experience that is common and sometimes confusing or scary. Through this role plays, children become more comfortable and prepared for life events in a safe way.
3. Children develop important complex social and higher-order thinking skills.
Pretend play is much more than simple play activities; it requires advanced thinking strategies, communication, and social skills. Through pretend play, children learn to do things like negotiating, consider others’ perspectives, transfer knowledge from one situation to another, delay gratification, balance their ideas with others, develop a plan and act on it, explore symbolism, express and listen to thoughts and ideas, assign tasks and roles, and synthesize different information and ideas.
In this creative play description, we could just as easily be describing the skills needed to successfully manage a work project for an adult as describing children’s pretend play.
4. Children cultivate social and emotional intelligence.
How we interact with others is key to our lifelong success and happiness. Knowing how to read social cues, recognize and regulate emotions, negotiate and take turns, and engage in a long-term activity that is mutually beneficial are no easy tasks. There is no substitute for creative and imaginative play when it comes to teaching and enhancing these abilities in children.
5. Children synthesize knowledge and skills.
Because learning and child development doesn’t happen in discrete pockets of time or during isolated activities, children need opportunities to blend their skills and knowledge.
SOME EXTRA TIPS
As a parent or caregiver, you further encourage learning skills and child development as kids engage in pretending. Get them their favorite dolls, build up prep boxes and puppet theatres with them, and most importantly, make time for them and help them build up their imaginary skills.
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