The Importance Of Pretend Play For Kids
Pretend play is the fun, imaginative, magical way that children transform themselves into knights, princesses, police officers, doctors, chefs, or even their favorite cartoon characters during play. Pretend play can be enjoyed both at home and school, and it has tremendous educational and developmental value.
Through pretend play, your child will get to learn how to solve complex problems, coordinate and cooperate with her peers, and think flexibly as she plays. She also gets to develop her imaginative skills, becoming more creative in the process.
Benefits Of Pretend Play For Kids
- Pretend play allows your child to learn about herself and the world. Dramatic play scenarios teach kids about their likes, dislikes, interests, and abilities. When your child experiments with role-playing, she works towards making sense of things she has observed in the past. Pretend play offers children the opportunity to express new ideas and feelings in a safe space.
- Pretend play helps children work out confusing, scary, or new life situations. For example, when kids play doctor and give each other shots, it is their way of exploring this common and often scary situation. Because of pretend play, your child may become more prepared and comfortable for real-life situations.
- It helps children develop complex social and thinking skills. Through pretend play, your child will exercise advanced thinking skills, communication skills, and social skills. Pretend play teaches children how to negotiate, consider different perspectives from their own, transfer knowledge, delay gratification, balance ideas, plan and execute, express themselves, assign roles, and synthesize information that they get. These are skills that will serve them well for the rest of their lives.
- Pretend play teaches children social and emotional intelligence. Children can learn about social cues, how to recognize and regulate emotions, how to take turns, and how to play well with others.
- It helps children synthesize their knowledge and skills. When children interact with each other and even adults during pretend play, they synthesize everything they have learned up to that point. For example, when playing grocery store, they can practice identifying fruits, names of colors, sorting skills, and even basic arithmetic skills as they determine prices.
How To Encourage Pretend Play
Here Are A Few Tips To Help You Encourage Pretend Play In Your Child:
- Use Stories. Ask your child to tell you a familiar story while adding their own twists. You can prompt fresh ideas by asking questions like, “What if the cat didn’t find the mouse?”
- Use Dolls And Puppets. Provide your child with dolls, puppets, and stuffed animals. You can even help her make some from scratch at home from socks or craft paper. Over time, your child will learn to use them to express and explore her ideas and feelings.
- Build A Prop Box At Home. Prop boxes are collections of themed pretend play materials. Examples of themes include office, flower shop, restaurant, post office, and more.
- Make Time For Your Child To Play. Uninterrupted play time is super important, so instead of fitting play into 20-minute chunks, allow your child to play for as long as she wants to. Let her fully explore her creativity without interruptions.
As you can see, time spent in pretend play is time well spent. Next time you see your little one engaged in pretend play, don’t interrupt or rush her off to piano practice, homework, or cleaning her room. Why don’t you join in instead?