Pretend play, also called imaginative play, is a form of play that involves role playing, non-literal behaviour and object substitution. If you see your child pretending to cook, pretending to be a “mom” taking care of her dolls, or pretending to be a doctor, superhero, firefighter and the like, that’s imaginative play.
Experts believe that pretend play is a vital contributor to a child’s normal development. Here’s why:
It improves creativity and imagination
A recent research found that early pretend play helps encourage a child’s creativity and cognitive flexibility. By playing an imaginative game, no matter what it is, children are training themselves to think creatively, to exercise their thinking and imaginative skills and more importantly, independence.
It’s like Albert Einstein’s famous saying – “Logic will get you from A to Z, but imagination will get you everywhere.”
It encourages emotional and social development
Children are dabbling into the emotional and social roles of life when they play different roles or control things in their own environment during pretend play. Engaging in imaginative play improves a child’s sense of self, how the world works, how they fit in the environment around them and how it feels like to be in someone else’s shoes.
When they play with other kids, they learn even further – they discover responsibility and how to share it with others, cooperation, empathy and boundaries.
It helps develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills
It all seems simple to us adults, but the mere act of pretend play presents plenty of problem-solving opportunities to little ones. They have to decide what game to play, what toys or materials are needed to play, what role to take on, who else will be involved, what rules will apply to the game and more.
Further along, they will encounter “problems” they will need to solve or scenarios they will have to think about carefully. Their little brain will constantly be at work recreating what they observed from real life.
For example, your little one is pretending to be a mom cooking a meal for her children. She engages in abstract thinking, trying to play out scenarios based off of her memory. If she remembers you frying eggs or pouring out juice in glasses, she’s likely to act those out.
Don’t forget to take time to play with your kids so that they learn more and you understand them more! There’s nothing quite like quality time!
Angela Kidd is an author and illustrator, a wife and a mother to 3 beautiful kids. In her spare time, she would personally create storybooks and coloring books for her children for fun and they loved it.. And so did she. Angela quit her job and created her own line of educational activity books for children of various ages, with the main goal of making learning fun! You can check out some of Angela’s amazing books here.
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