Young children learn by imagining and doing. The process of ‘pretending’ helps to build skills that are essential for a young child’s development. On this week's episode we are going to explore how Pretend Play is a key element in developing your child’s language, thinking and social and emotional skills.
The skill of language is also a very important skill to develop in early childhood. Pretend play allows children to explore their spoken language with their toys, props and friends. It encourages them to speak more. It also encourages them to imitate the grownups or t.v. characters around them. This connection to spoken language is essential for when a child is ready to learn how to read and write.
Thirdly, pretend play allows children to develop their thinking skills. Whether it is a problem they must solve, deciding on roles for the afternoon’s drama, or deciding what to put in the magic potion being created at your kitchen sink, it is a thought process that is being followed These examples involve cognition…they involve thinking. These skills that they are practicing are used in every aspect of their lives as they get older.
So now that we know how pretend play benefits your child’s social, emotional and language development, in addition to their thinking skills development, how do we nurture this type of play? The key when nurturing imagination is to provide your child with an environment in which they can thrive. It is important to remember that pretend play is not ‘wasting time.’ Play is the business of childhood and it is essential. Now, if you are anything like me and don’t want your entire house taken over by toys and homemade contraptions, you may decide on some areas in which this play may happen with your children. There is nothing wrong with laying out some boundaries, but the key is that you do not want to stifle or control the play.
It’s also not important to buys special toys. Sure your child may enjoy some butterfly wings, or a pretend stethoscope, but children are very good with finding things to do with items that are around the house. Old clothes, phones, backpacks, cardboard boxes, cooking utensils…are just a few examples. These items paired with their imagination and time will yield awesome results.