The world of make-believe, otherwise known as the world of pretend, is the best representation of reality for the kids. In this world, kids get to be whoever they want to be. They can be a knight, a pretty princess, a superhero or anything else that comes to their mind. The world of pretend is the most adequate platform for kids to let their imagination take control.
Playing pretend gets even better when they have an object to build their imagination around. For instance, a dump truck will help a boy to imagine he is actually driving the machine itself, therefore he will make engine sounds with his mouth.
A tea set will make a girl recreate the situation using real objects. Pretend play has a lot of benefits to kids. Let’s look at a few.
Imagination and creativity are some of the most important tools in an adult’s life. By pretending to be a fireman, pirate or a superhero, kids get to create tiny problems for themselves, which they end up solving with their own creativity. In this way, they get to enhance their imagination and creativity.
The development of children’s imagination during their early years goes a long way in helping them solve tasks as they grow up. Their problem solving skills is also developed at an early point, hence they are better prepared for more difficult tasks in future. Pretend play enhances their creativity thus they are able to approach a problem from different avenues when they are adults.
These games expose kids to new vocabulary that they may not know of. A kid pretending to be a pirate will get to learn new words such as port, starboard, mast and sail. Of course they can’t get to know these words if you aren’t there to play with them. So make sure you play with them so that you can teach them these words and help them build their vocabulary.
Another way in which make-believe helps build your child’s language is through the use of symbolic thought. Kids may take a spoon and pretend it is a hairbrush or a tablecloth and pretend it is a cape.
This symbolic thinking is the same underlying principle of language as words are also used as symbols. Some studies actually show that the first words of some kids usually emerge during pretend play.
When your kid plays with other kids, they learn how to interact with one another in the process of having fun. If they’re playing in a little tikes playhouse, they will learn to make friends and build alliances that sometimes become lifelong. This will develop your kids social skills and make them easy to relate with in future.
In addition to that, games that involve turning taking with other kids will teach your kid to become patient and sometimes they learn to be leaders. They also learn to share, an important character trait that will make your kid to be loving towards others.
Playing pretend with your kids also helps you to connect with them even more. It helps you understand them even better and they get to see you more than just a person who feeds and clothes them. They get to see you as a friend.
By playing make-believe, your child learns to view things from the perspective of others. If your boy pretends to be an engineer or construction builder, he gets to see building houses in a whole new perspective. This develops empathy, which they will need in future situations.
Pretend play also has its physical advantages. For instance, a girl trying to fit the arms of her Barbie doll in the pockets of its jacket gets to practice hand-eye coordination. Tea parties help kids to better their table manners and they get to learn how to handle fragile utensils like china cups.
Pretend games which involve chasing and running around help kids get the exercise that they need. This is far better than them sitting all day glued to a screen. When they play games that involve building stuff like sandcastles, they get to learn to use their fingers in various tasks thus helping with coordination.
Another advantage of these games is that children get to learn positive behaviour such as self regulation. For example, when they are playing as knights and kings. A lot of the kids will want to be king, but only one is chosen. In this way, the kids learn to accept the unpleasant situation and let others have their turn.
Parents can also introduce situations into the game to create incidental learning opportunities. When your child is giving her doll a bath, you can create some dilemmas like, “Oh no! The soap just ran out.” This will help her work through tricky situations with guidance.
Make-believe is always a fun activity for kids, especially if they have someone to play it with. In this digital age and era, instead of giving a kid that tablet or phone to play with, play with them. They will get to learn a lot and you will be eternally grateful.