Remember when you were still a kid, and you’d involve your parents in this make-believe story that you were playing? A very typical example is when you would play with your action figures and ask dad to pretend to be a hero too or when you’re playing tea party with your mum – that, my friends, is what they call imaginative play.
Now, that you’re a parent yourself, you can expect your child to run wild with their imaginations when they’re playing with their toys or playmates at school.
A lot of you will wonder if imaginative play means something. Does it stand that your child is going to have an upward development? Is it a sign somehow of creative capability? Or perhaps you might have wondered if it’s a symptom of an attention deficit disorder.
It’s normal for parents to suspect what each little quirk their kids have. But, with imaginative play, the only thing you should expect is positive implications. In this article, we will discuss its role in your toddler’s development. Are you ready to dive in? Let’s go.
What Is Imaginative Play
In a nutshell, imaginative play or also known as pretend play is roleplaying. When your child often sees you cook, for instance, on their own, they’re going to try to mimic the same actions you make. Or, when they often see their doctors, putting the stethoscope to their chest and sticking a thermometer in their armpits, they’re going to copy the same actions with their bear and dog pretend-patients.
Imaginative play is how children make sense of what’s going on around them. They learn how to communicate and socialise with their peers and their teachers. Such play also helps them make sense of the things YOU do.
So, if you see your own kid having a little world to herself. Leave her be, as imaginative play can bring about so many benefits. Let’s discuss them one by one.
Imaginative play lets your child be a doctor, princess or astronaut — whatever she desires!
Benefits of Imaginative Play
It is through make-believe that children can more freely explore their creative sides. For instance, they can transform their toys into anything. A simple box can become a car. A big ball can become a planet. Some blocks can become a building.
And it’s not just things that they make-believe. Even the dialogues that they use to bring their stories to life. They can make their dolls talk about anything and everything. Dinosaurs can all of a sudden talk about iPads and chicken nuggets.
The possibilities seem endless for children. Let their imagination run wild, and you will be surprised by what they come up with.
Supports Physical Development
50 per cent of imaginative play is made-up dialogue while the other 50 per cent is bringing their stories to life through manipulatives. And, the great thing about make-believe is that children learn how to handle these manipulatives on their own in their dedication to playing out their imagined stories.
A child, for instance, plays with a doll and feels its character needs to be always in style. The act of removing the doll’s clothes, putting new ones on, and even exploring how to change its hairstyle are all ways the child can develop their fine motor skills.
The same goes for a child who is imagining a bunch of blocks as a building. They learn how to gently put one block after another, making sure not to apply too much force that it might knock their blocks down.
Imaginative play may also get your children the exercise they need to build up body strength. Your child pretending to be chased by a dinosaur or a cop can do that. When you see them go up the stairs of a slide and glide their way down then make their way back to the stairs just to glide back down again, you can thank their imagination for all of the exercises they’re doing on that slide.
Develops Language and Social Skills
Through imaginative play, you will witness the biggest transformations in your children when you see them push themselves to learn how to say things. Again, in their dedication to bringing their stories to life, they will exert more effort to improve their language skills.
Expect them to even interrupt you to ask: “Mama what do you call the thing that makes my bread hot?” Making believe sparks their curiosity about how to communicate their stories better.
And, when you bring your child to school to socialise, you can also thank imaginative play for making them more comfortable playing with their classmates.
Unlike adults, children do not care so much if they make good friends. If another child adds to the story they’re making, they will let the child join in. And together, they’ll explore their creative sides and push their stories further.
You will be shocked at how at ease your child becomes when they engage in pretend play with other children.
Allows Opportunities for Teachable Moments
When you involve yourself in your child’s imaginative play, you can actually inject some valuable things that your own little tot ought to learn.
For instance, when you play dinosaurs with your child and pretend to be in prehistoric times, you can tell your child a lot about what life was like during these times. Not only does your child learn history, but they also gain more appreciation for the ease of their lives today.
You can also teach them manners. Say your child plays with a female doll and makes it slap another female doll’s face. You can use the opportunity to teach your child that violence is wrong.
You can also encourage them to solve problems on their own. When they knock off a couple of blocks during intense imaginative play, you can respond to the incident and say “Oh no! The building is falling down. What do we do?” Your child learns in that instance that their dolls need to move away from the blocks.
Image Source: iStock
Keeps Children Away from Addictive Gadgets
This is perhaps the most significant return that parents today can expect from imaginative play. As we know tablets and iPads have become an absolute necessity for children today because of the wide range of things that they can do with them.
While we thank the advances of technology for convenience, we can also blame them for the growing addiction that our children develop by overusing them.
The addiction to gadgets can make children anti-social, easily irritable, unresponsive to other people, and even affect their cognition and speech. So, if we can get our children away from these gadgets for large portions of the time, we ought to do it. That’s where imaginative play comes in.
Apart from luring them with their favourite chicken nuggets or gummi worms, the only other way you can get them to put their devices down is when you invite them to play with their toys. And, upon successfully doing that, you lessen their device usage and improve their creativity, problem-solving skills, language skills, and many more.
If these five reasons are not reason enough to let your child engage in imaginative play, we don’t know what will. Allow your child to run wild with their imaginations, and you will be surprised with how much they achieve and develop just in their pursuit of playing out the stories in their minds.
Image Source: iStock
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