What’s one of the best ways to guarantee your child will thrive? By carefully tending to their creative spirit and infusing a sense of PLAYfulness to their learning. And guess what? Creativity and PLAYfulness come together naturally in pretend PLAY!
What is Pretend PLAY?
• Starts around 2 to 3 years of age
• Scenes and people from family life, school and/or daycare all act as inspiration
• It revolves around the acting out of stories. Stories’ themes let kids:
· explore multiple perspectives
· express emotions
· test ideas
• Other names for pretend PLAY include dramatic PLAY, imaginative PLAY and make-believe PLAY
• PLAY means learning. Children’s pretend PLAY is a combination of their:
· Deep, inner drive to grow and learn; coupled with
· Imitating the adults and/or other children in their environment
————————–Its importance cannot be overstated!
• Children practice social situations in pretend PLAY. They’re able to work out fears and anxiety in a safe place and in a safe way. Their PLAY isn’t part of fantasy world. Rather, it has deep roots in reality!
• During pretend PLAY, children try out new roles. They imagine various situations or settings. In pretend PLAY, children experiment. Sounds a lot like science huh? Language, emotions and even relationships are open for experimentation. Pretend PLAY develops children’s problem-solving skills. In fact, this ability to ‘live in another world’ shows an advance in cognitive processing.
Pretend PLAY helps children:
1. Go from concrete to abstract thinking
2. Think outside the box
3. Learn to create beyond the here and now
4. Stretch their imaginations
5. Use new words and word combinations
ALL in a risk-free environment!
It’s Important to Repeat….
As noted above, pretend PLAY allows children to deal with their emotions. Emotions both positive and negative. This gives them an acceptable way to reduce aggression, develop politeness and empathy. Combined, this gives them a way to self-regulate their behavior.
When children role-PLAY, they can practice, practice, and practice some more their social skills. For example, they can practice their communication skills. And I’m not just talking about talking! Of course they practice talking, but they also practice listening and hearing what others are saying.
Can You Feel What I’m Saying?
In addition to talking, listening and hearing, kiddos observe what others are feeling, which helps them to develop empathy. According to Professor Karen Hutchinson of Rowan University, “PLAY is actually the work of a child in which they are preparing themselves for adult roles and for society at large.”
Pretend PLAY gives children ample opportunity to ‘try on’ many different roles, explore and learn, collaborate with others, & navigate friendships.
Friends: Real & Imaginary…
Sometimes children have imaginary friends. This happened at preschool. Once a little girl even adopted the persona of her imaginary friend. She insisted we call her by that name. Imaginary friends can be a little unsettling for some adults. They wonder whether it’s a red flag for something more serious. Don’t worry! Turns out children who had imaginary friends show a higher level of creativity. Additionally, adults who recalled having an imaginary friend as a child out-performed those who didn’t on creativity tests. Wondering about that preschool kidlet? The whole thing lasted just a handful of weeks. She went back to her given name, giving us teachers a look like we were crazy for having ever called her anything else!
Pretend PLAY: Benefits Now & Later…
I’m a huge proponent of pretend PLAY and so is child psychologist David Elkind, Ph.D “Imaginative PLAY fosters creativity and helps children explore the world.” He continues, “Imaginations and creativity are like muscles: If you don’t use them you lose them.” Look for The Power of Play, The Hurried Child, and Miseducation plus more books on children’s well-being and parenting from Dr Elkind.
In our technological society, the ability to think outside the box is a hallmark of creativity. This ability leads to innovation and invention, characteristics that are highly valued and valuable. Pretend PLAY helps children think outside the box!
Promote and support pretend PLAY! It feeds your kidlet’s imagination and individuality. All areas of child development benefit. Pretend PLAY does all that in a self-motivated, natural, and FUN way!
Unsure how to begin? Read 14 Ways You Can Develop Your Child’s Imagination for more ideas!
How does your kidlet make-believe?
Yours in PLAY!