What do children gain from pretend play?
All children experience pretend play when they are young. It is a popular form of play that has been around for many years in which the characters of “mom”, “dad”, “child” and even “pets” come out. In recent years, we have learned that pretend play has a large impact on children’s development. Children who experience pretend play a lot when they are young are more nurturing than children who do not have this experience. We will introduce the benefits of pretend play below.
Pretend play helps children enrich their imaginations
Pretend play requires children to use their imagination and create their own image of the world. During play, sand from the sandbox may become rice and leaves may become salad. To encourage your child’ to use his/her imagination, it is best to provide simple objects rather than toys that already replicate food. It is more effective if children use wooden blocks, string and even cut up straws instead of purchased toys. This will make it easier for them to pretend the items are their favorite foods. When experiencing pretend play at the park, children can use acorns, sticks, leaves and even stones. Between the age of 3-4yrs they may only copy what mom is doing but once your child is over 5yrs old he/she will start coming up with his/her own ideas.
Pretend play also helps improve communication skills
At the beginning, your child will use simple words and phrases, such as “here you are”, “thank you” and “you’re welcome”. Younger children will learn how to use these simple words and phrases and learn how fun communicating with others can be. When children become 4yrs old they will begin playing with others. Playing with peers will help them learn how to share their ideas and listen to what their friends have to say and teach them how to communicate with others in a fun environment.
Learning how others feel through pretend play
Once your child can start playing together with his/her friends, they will need to decide who plays which role and the pretend play will become more complicated. As they play “the mother” and “the father” roles, they will realize what it feels like to “be a mom when her child doesn’t listen” or “to be a father who comes home late and misses being with his family”. This type of play will help them see things from someone else’s standpoint and pick up naturally how to pay attention to other people’s feelings and compromise.
Pretend play can be done without any special props and has an important effect on children’s development. Please encourage your child to do pretend play when they are young. It is hard to do pretend play on one’s own so parents and friends should get involved when possible. Early childhood classes and schools are a great place for children to experience pretend play.