Pretend and imaginary play is essentially when children are role playing and are acting out various experiences that is of some interest to them. Children learn from what they see, hear, smell, taste and touch. To absorb those experiences and make sense of the world, they need to be engaged in imaginary play.
We as adults often under value the importance of imaginary play. Play is a child’s way of engaging and making sense of the world. Role play may appear to be a very simple activity, yet within it, young children learn practical life skills such as dressing themselves, how to cooperate and share with others. The opportunity to play freely also encourages healthy development. To help parents understand the importance of pretend and imaginary play, take a look at the list of benefits of imaginary play for children.
1. Enhances Language Development
You may hear some words and phrases you never thought your little one knew when he is engage in imaginary play with his toys or friends. Pretend play helps your child understand the power of language. By engaging in pretend play in particular, children learn to verbally express their ideas and opinions through this form of story telling. They build their vocabulary of descriptive words as they explain their setting and plot. When engaging in pretend play with friends and siblings, they also develop important social communication skills such as back and forth communication and listening skills.
Through the pretend play activities, children can express themselves freely with words in their own space and time, without the risk of embarrassment if they use the words incorrectly.
2. Sparks Creativity
Children love to imitate superheroes. Pretending to be Batman or Wonder Woman allows 2- and 3-year-olds to feel brave and invincible, which helps them develop self-confidence, says Dr. Healy.
Besides that, they also enjoy imagining themselves as characters such as princess, chef or doctor. By putting on the costumes, it allows them to create their own worlds full of excitement and fun. They find creative ways to use an old cardboard box or building blocks.
3. Enhances Social Skills
When children engage in pretend play with friends or siblings, they develop important social skills such as turn taking and sharing. They also learn teamwork and cooperation as well as listening to others and being supportive. Through play, kids learn they can’t always get what they want. These are all skills needed for school, sports, a career and in life when they grow up.
4. Boost Planning & Organizational Skills
Children always plan out their scenarios when they are playing. Be it alone or with friends or siblings. They also organize their toys in specific ways so their imaginary world can come to life. This teaches kids to use thinking and problem solving skills as well.
In pretend-play, children often face a variety of problems to solve. Whether it’s two children who want to play the same role, or looking for the right material to make a roof for the playhouse. From there, your child calls upon important cognitive thinking skills that he will use in every aspect of his life, now and forever.
5. Increase Independence
When kids engage in pretend and imaginary play, they learn to how to entertain themselves which leads to them being more independent individuals by creating their own worlds and stories. Playing also helps children find out their likes and dislikes and teaches them how to make choices.