If there’s one thing that I’m proud of my son, it’s his ability to have fun even without toys. All he needs is a box, perhaps a few of mommy stuff (comb, socks, name it, he’s fine with it), and his imagination. He’s inside our bedroom but when he does make-believe play, he could be anyone and anywhere he wants to be.
And I bet all kids are like this — imaginative. But did you know that aside from being fun and free, pretend play is crucial for the development of a child?
Improved social skills, increased creativity, and enhanced physical development — these are just some of the benefits brought by make-believe games. So, the next time you see your kid talking to an imaginary friend or impersonating their favorite cartoon character, just let them.
And as for you, here are some of the advantages of pretend play to a child.
Supports Emotional And Social Development
When a child plays make-believe games, it’s obvious that he/she is someone else. Considering this, they are already experimenting with different aspects of life, particularly the emotional and social part. They are wearing somebody else’s shoes and this lets them understand other people’s feelings, thus developing empathy.
They play different roles, so more or less, they understand responsibility. For example, my son loves to pretend that he is Chase from Paw Patrol. Since Chase acts as the leader most of the time, whenever we play, he learns how to command me and his father and thinks of our next action.
Also, since we are a team (I play Skye while his father is Rocky), he learns how to cooperate. He tells us what to and at the same time, listens to our suggestions and responds positively. Who would have thought that such a game can teach so much more?
Here’s one video of a kid playing a make-believe game that I find interesting:
**Be sure to watch this with your kids
When a child does pretend play, they absorb the character that they are portraying, and they are training themselves to be more creative and imaginative.
Being imaginative enhances the cognitive skills, which, by the way, is important as it is used every day — at home, in school, and life in general. When we think of kids using their imagination, we may not realize yet its importance but if we apply it in our current situation as adults, imagination pushes us to think outside the box. The result? It helps us to think of plans, solutions to our problems, and perhaps, lead us to a new invention.
Develops Language And Communication Skills
The last time my son and I had a pretend play, I was shocked with the phrases I heard. If my memory serves me right, he can barely speak when he’s two years old and now that he’s three, he’s saying words I never thought he knew. Don’t worry, those words are clean and safe! *wink
Anyway, it’s fascinating to hear him say things that I heard from him the first time and finding out that his vocabulary has expanded made me really, really happy. Watching a TV show is one thing but him, pretending the character he sees, is another! I know that it helped a lot in terms of delivering the words and making sure that we understand his point.
In turn, my son also learned how to listen effectively during pretend play. He does this to understand what’s going to happen next and how he would respond. Talking about a powerful skill!
Pro Tip: Another way to help them improve their critical-thinking and communication skills is by talking to them — and you can make it exciting by asking fun questions to your kids.
Develop Problem-Solving Ability, Critical Thinking, And Learning
As mentioned, the kids fit themselves in somebody else’s shoes when doing pretend play. Along with this, they have to know what things/toys are needed, who will be involved, what’s the next action to take, and what rules to apply (if there’s any). On top of this, they have to know how to resolve the problem in case something went wrong.
With pretend play, your kid develops cognitive thinking skills that are useful in every aspect of life. Make-believe games also form memories. Whenever they do imaginative play, they think of past scenarios that would help them during the play. Through this abstract thinking, your little ones learn how to think and respond to different scenarios by basing on what had happened in the past pretend play. Also, this helps them to overcome any challenges that might happen on the next make-believe game.
Improve Physical Development
Aside from improving the mental skills, pretend play develops the physical aspect of your child. Remember the last time your child impersonates his/her favorite superhero? Does he/she fly? Does he/she run very fast? Does he/she climb up and down the ladder? Whatever action they make, this develops their gross motor skills as time passes by.
So the next time your kid asks you to pretend to play with them, don’t hesitate. Bring out your inner child and let you and your child’s imagination take you somewhere else.
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