Pretend play is a vital part of a child’s development. Pretend play holds an important role in cognitive and social development and skills in children that they otherwise don’t learn. Children usually engage in pretend play, or make-believe, staring a little past 2 years to about 7 years of age. There are many developmental toys for children to help enhance their learning during pretend play.
Imagination, Social, and Emotional Development
The act of pretend play helps a child to use and develop their imagination. In addition to imagination, the child is also actively learning new social and emotional skills. Children learn how to play with others and compromise during the act of pretend play. In addition to all of this, children also learn about themselves through pretend play. As they play, they discover new likes and dislikes as well as their preferences. A child may decide what their favorite toy is during pretend play. They also learn empathy. By pretending to be different characters, children rationalize how the other characters respond and how the other characters feel.
Complex Thinking Processes
Pretend play also leads to more complex thinking processes. Children will often times plan out a play scene, involve other children into the scene, complete actions, evaluate the actions, and adjust accordingly. For example, if a child wants to pretend to be a princess, the child may determine that there needs to be a king, and a castle. Then the child will likely determine what will be happening at the castle, maybe a royalty party. As the play ensues, the children may incorporate new characters or new actions into the play scene. Through all of this seemingly easy play, the children are actually learning about characters, actions, adjustment, and re-evaluation of the scenario. That is a lot of learning going on!
Pretend play can also lead to constructive play. Children will use items or toys to begin building or making something constructive. For example, children may create an airport and airplane out of Legos so they can pretend they are the pilot of the plane. This constructive play only enhances the learning already happening.
Role play is another part of pretend play that occurs. Children may pretend they are a “mom” or “dad” and mimic or imitate the things they have seen those people do. The children may use items as symbols for something else during this pretend play. For example, they may use a stick they found in the yard to act as a leash for the pretend dog they are out walking. The stick becomes the symbol and a useful tool for learning.
As you can see, pretend play happens in many different ways. Imagination development, social skills, emotional skills, complex thinking development, constructive play, and role play all stem from pretend play or make-believe play. Here at Kid-Krazy LLC we encourage learning through play and fun! You can find a variety of different toys to enhance learning such as action figures, Barbie dolls, doll houses, and much more by age and category at www.kid-krazy.com.