We have all heard that play is the work of childhood. However, many parents seem to forget this bit of information, or perhaps simply discard it as unimportant. After all, how crucial could pretend play be when there are math facts to be learned and books to be read? The answer is that play is absolutely critical in the development of the child, and whether you see it or not, a child is learning and growing each and every time they engage in play.
One of the most popular kinds of play amongst children of preschool and early elementary ages is pretend play. This is wonderful because pretend play is such an incredible way for children to absorb information about themselves and the world around them. Here are just a few of the benefits children receive during their pretend play sessions,
Pretend play gives children the opportunity to explore new emotions. Additionally, it provides situations that allow young people to try new things without the consequences of “real life”. This means those who engage in pretend play are better able to explore their own likes and dislikes, something that is important for a person who is still growing their own individuality.
Nobody is born knowing or understanding the complex social rules of our society. Pretend play gives children a chance to learn these rules in a laid-back and fun setting. It also affords these little ones an opportunity to experiment with these rules through real interactions without the risks they may be taking should they choose to carry out the same experimentation as themselves.
Pretending with a group of other children requires cooperation on the part of everyone involved. It opens kids up to the idea of compromise and gives them the chance to practice give-and-take with peers. Pretend play is the ideal way for children to develop great teamwork skills that will be used for the rest of their lives.
The world can be a confusing and scary place for a young child. Pretending gives young individuals a way to explore situations which may feel intimidating, making them less scary and more normal and natural. For instance, a child who has a fear of doctors may play doctor with a group of friends in order to ease fears and increase their understanding of the role of a doctor.
Pretend play requires children to practice solving problems on a number of levels.
The players in any pretend game must first agree upon a game and solve any issues that may arise during the decision period. They must then solve problems on the real-world side of things when looking for the proper props or dress-up pieces or making sure furniture is placed in the way that works best for the game. The final and perhaps most beneficial problem-solving comes during the game, when imaginary problems arise in the pretend world and the children must work together to find a solution.
Because problem-solving is such an important part of day-to-day life, allowing children to practice problem-solving through pretend play is the perfect way to prepare them for the future.
All types of pretend play involve creating a pretend world. While this is easy enough for one child who is working solo, a group of children must be able to effectively communicate what they see in their imaginary worlds in order to work together to create one world together. This demands that the young people involved possess decent communication skills and will encourage the use of these skills in order to improve upon them.
Remember those math facts and books we mentioned at the beginning of the article? It turns out that pretend play is actually a perfect way for children to practice using those skills.
From counting change in a pretend grocery store to creating a story based on last night’s bedtime book, pretend play is the perfect time for children to incorporate all of the valuable skills they have acquired in their short lifetimes. This allows little ones to see how these skills will benefit them going forward and encourages further learning.
As you can see, pretend play is a highly important part of childhood. For this reason, we encourage parents everywhere to slow down a bit and give kids the time and space to just play.
Want to offer your child a weekly opportunity to be involved in some seriously fun pretend play with their peers? You might be interested in joining The Loop’s Pretend Drama Club. This club is run by the fabulous Miss Cielja and consists of children ages 5–8.
During meetings, the children use props and costumes to create a fun story which they then perform for parents. It is the perfect way to encourage imaginative pretend play in any child and is an absolute blast for students and parents alike.