Why Pretend Play is So Important for Kids
Anyone who has children or can remember his or her own childhood days is familiar with the concept of pretend play, which is a type of activity where a young child begins to role play. Typically emerging in the second year of life, such imaginative play may be much more than just an amusing activity for toddlers. Some research has suggested that role playing may be an important developmental milestone in small children and may assist in the development of cognitive, verbal, and social skills.
Many parents may experience frustration when their child shows little or no interest in learning to count, to sing the alphabet, and other academic prerequisites that they will need in the upcoming years. Especially frustrating is their tendencey to avoid all instruction in favor of pretending to be monsters, superheroes or even people they know. Parents can be reassured that imaginative play is not merely an idle endeavor with no redeeming values; indeed, experts are now saying that the ability to roll play and pretend may be more important than the ability to count or recite the alphabet at such a young age. Playing imagination games helps the young brain order the world around him or her and teaches the young child how to empathize and interact with others. Instead of trying to redirect the child's energy into activities that they deem more constructive, parents should instead encourage and participate in such games.
Pretend play can come in many forms. Young boys will frequently engage in such activity as pretending to be warriors, carpenters, truck drivers, and football players. In the hands of an imaginative youngster a broom handle becomes a sword, a paper towel roll can be a hammer, and so on. Likewise, little girls often engage in such forms of play by playing with dolls and doll houses. Doll houses are particularly strong outlets of pretend play since they allow the child to have complete control over a mini universe. The child with a doll house can rearrange furniture, cook dinner, put the baby to bed, and do all of the activities that she observes her parents do every day.
Roll playing and other sorts of imaginative games are a vital component of the education of any young child. He or she uses such play time not simply for idle fancy, but as a way to understand societal roles, relationships, and his or her place in the world. Key cognitive and communication skills depend upon the ability to successfully roll play, so parents should encourage such activities. Of course, it is also important for parents to read to young children and introduce them to numbers, shapes, colors, and letters. However, academic learning must share time with imaginative play to ensure that the child continues to develop successfully.
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