Our high tech world is taking away the ability for children to pretend play. From a very young age children are handed interactive electronic toys and gadgets to amuse them. They don’t have to imagine a fairy or a monster; these figures are portrayed live on a screen.
It is important for children to develop their imagination for essential learning skills. Pretend play helps a child’s emotional and social development. If you listen to the words that children use in this form of play you will often here your own words coming back to you. This helps a child take himself out of his ,€œme,€ version of the world and to identify with others.
Imaginary play helps a child’s creativity. If a child can create a car from a block or a fairy from a face cloth they learn a certain flexibility of thought. This helps to problem solve, as they get older.
Role-playing is a very important part of pretend play. Smaller children will start by serving you tea or pizza while older children will emulate their pre-school teachers. This helps them to fit into their world.

Ways to Encourage Pretend Play

Limit the Use of Electronics

There is a growing concern that small children are being introduced to electronics long before they are ready. Yes, giving your I-Phone to your toddler might bring you a period of peace and quiet but this may be a great disservice to the child.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under 2 should have no exposure to TV or the internet; and that older children should be restricted to no more that two hours a day of screen time.
For your toddlers and pre-scholars if you take away all their interactive toys for a day, they will quickly turn to some of their other toys that require them to use their imagination.

Outside Play

PRETEND PLAYThere was a time when playing outdoors was the major part of a child’s day. Out busy schedules and fears of safety have interfered with this. It is important to encourage your child to get outdoors – building imaginary forts, kicking and throwing balls, walking their dolls, pretending to take their ride-on-toys on a trip, and having a picnic.
If this outdoor play involves their siblings or friends it helps to develop their social skills. They learn to share and to take turns. They learn to lead and to follow.

Alternates to Toys

PRETEND PLAY Have your children spend a day playing with items that are not toys. There are many household items that are great for pretend play. The kitchen is rich with spoons, bowls, pots, and furniture that can be used. Blankets, pillows and towels can be used to make forts.
Outside they can use the patio furniture, garden sticks, cardboard boxes, and rocks to invent new games. You will be surprised by how quickly they arrange ordinary items into fantasy worlds.

Drama and Plays

Most children love to perform for adults. Encourage your children to put on a play for you. This really encourages good language skills, timing, organizing, and creative costuming.
Guessing games can be very creative. Our children love to play ,€œtransportation,€. In this game you describe something relating to transportation. For example – what has two large wheels, one small wheel, a steering wheel, and an engine, – a tractor. Of course the topic could be changed to anything.

Dress Up Clothes

PRETEND PLAYEvery playroom should have a ,€œtickle trunk,€ full of various dress up clothes. One moment a child can be a dragon the next the tooth fairy. A rainy day can be spent travelling to a variety of venues.

Final Words About Pretend Play

We must all work very hard to allow our children to grow in creative ways. The availability of, the convenience of, and the attractiveness of electronic devices and toys can seduce us into killing all pretend play.

Related Posts: