We all remember being princesses, knights, cowboys or wizards. Perhaps we had a costume box filled to the brim with possibilities, or perhaps it was a stick from the yard that was a magic wand, or a fishing rod. But did you know that playing pretend or, “imaginative play” is actually an important activity that plays a huge roll in a child’s social and cognitive development?
Through research conducted for the past 75 years, we can see that playing pretend, especially between the ages of 2.5 and 6, helps to develop a child’s language use. “I’m flying!” quickly becomes, “I’m flying so fast!” “I’m a princess!” becomes, “I’m a beautiful princess with long hair and a sparkly purple dress!” Because pretend things aren’t actually happening, the child must be more descriptive so that their perspective is clear for their playmates.
Creativity, of course, is fostered by pretend play as well. The child becomes able to collect images, themes and stories from their daily experiences and integrate them into their imaginary scenarios. As adults, these children have been shown to have better problem solving skills; because we solve problems through our use of prior knowledge.
Pretend play has also been shown to benefit a child’s social interaction. They are able to express both positive and negative feelings (although not always real ones) in a way that becomes healthy and normal as the child grows. This leads to healthier social lives in the future, and better social interaction overall.
So, go slay a fierce dragon! Go fly to the top of the highest mountain, or dive to the deepest parts of the oceans! Make magic happen, and don’t forget to have fun.
What do we do here at Today’s Family to encourage pretend play? Our centers and licensed home child care locations are stocked full of toys for children to imagine scenarios around. We actively foster imagination through our Emergent Curriculum, which encourages children to learn about things they want to learn about. Play time is learning time for little ones; and learning happens here.
To learn more about the Emergent Curriculum, visit our web page: http://www.todaysfamily.ca/about-us/why-todays-family/
Until next time!
– Today’s Family