8 Benefits of Pretend Play
Pretend play is one of the most important aspects of childhood development. It provides kids with different opportunities to try out different roles. Here we go through the benefits of pretend play for kids and give examples of how you can encourage pretend play with your kids.
Most kids love to play around with their imaginations. They can see themselves cooking, flying a plane, driving a car, being mums and dads, and a lot of other fun stuff.
While it may look like a little fun activity, there are plenty of advantages of pretend play, it plays a major role in the overall development of a child. It is habitual and spans all through life.
According to Joseph Joubert, imagination is the eye of the soul. It is unlimited, boundless and without it, we lose the excitement of possibilities.
For instance, toddlers can begin to groom their imaginations with papers becoming boats, sticks becoming houses and brooms becoming horses.
So what is pretend play? Pretend play is where kids use various objects, actions & ideas to imitate situations while using their imaginations to designate roles.
Pretend play is a healthy contributor to the general development of a child. During pretend play, kids can pretend to be their favourite character, whether real or imaginary.
They could also mimic their teacher, friend or doctor, etc.
There are numerous benefits of pretend play. Below are enough reasons why you should encourage your child to engage in pretend play.
During pretend play, your child gets to learn how to show empathy and care for others. Their interaction gets a lot better once they get a strong hold of their emotions & feelings.
For example, during pretend play when they practice being a caregiver, they learn kindness and how to help others while being gentle.
It takes a critical thinker to solve problems and time and space is important in building one. Engaging in pretend play helps your child understand the world around them.
Pretend play is one of the first ways your child can discover what they like and dislike, their abilities, and interests.
For example, children playing with dolls learn how to be responsible for someone or something and the dolls often become versions of the child.
Developing social skills are not very easy however, children naturally relate well and connect more when they play.
Pretend play allows kids to share their thoughts, collaborate effectively and learn how to take turns happily.
This helps to build their confidence and helps them connect better while building relationships with their peers.
For example, during pretend play, your kid and peers could take turns to care for one of them who is unwell.
Pretend play enhances physical development in a fun way. For example, activities like dressing a doll can help boost hand & eye coordination, and galloping on imaginary horses can assist greatly with their gross motor development.
Have you ever heard your child say something you didn’t expect them to know? Pretend play allows sustainable exploration and learning of languages and social skills between children. Pretend play is open to everyone to join this means that they get to converse, and in this process build their vocabulary and language skills.
For example, your child can explain to their playmate what they are pretending to build or cook. This creates a conducive environment for interaction and language development.
Pretend play challenges kids to become more imaginative and creative. It helps them experiment with new ideas and make their own rules. Creativity can be a stress management strategy while contributing to your child’s well-being.
A good example is a 3-year old who is not capable of cooking a real meal for her family and friends. Through pretend play, the child can pretend to cook and enjoy it with her family and friends. This makes them happier and more likely to grow into a healthy, confident adult.
Pretend play between kids can help them handle situations they don’t want a lot better.
For example, when more than one child wants to be queen of the castle, the child who does not get to be queen needs to learn how to control unpleasant emotions for the play to carry on even though it might hurt them a bit.
Pretend play can be a very direct route for parents to teach their kids how to be responsible and caring for someone or something.
For example, when brushing their doll’s hair, the parent might ask the kid questions or discuss dilemmas like “Oops! Dolly is losing some hair!”. This teaches the kid empathy and the ability to navigate tricky scenarios with guidance.
The benefits of pretend play are humongous. It is often underestimated but still stands as a major factor in overall well-being and development of your child so, be sure to encourage pretend play for your kid.
- Arrange plenty of play dates especially with kids the same or similar age
- Introducing lots of props, you can start out with safe items like a soft toy.
- Allow plenty of play time. This allows your child to explore where the play takes them and expands their creativity.
- Actively engage them with activities and incorporate learning into the process. Eg. When you are baking, you can invite your child to bake alongside you with their play baking items.
Pretend Play for the Win!
With all of these amazing benefits of pretend play, there is no reason to interrupt the kids when using their imaginations when playing. If you think that the kids are getting too physical, you can give them some guidance, but as long as they aren’t hurting one another, the research suggests to just let them be.
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