Monday, August 6, 2018

3 Reasons To Encourage Imaginative Play

Children Multicolored Hand Paint

Most of us no doubt have memories of pretend play from when we were children. Whether that was playing as firemen or doctors, or playing mummies and daddies with our friends, imaginative play is usually a big part of our young lives.

These imaginative role-playing games that children play while growing up are the reason that adults are able to effectively complete the tasks that they need to during daily life. Imaginative play is a hugely important part of your child’s development and something that will help them in many areas of their lives as they grow into adults, so it is really important that you encourage this in your own children.

We thought we’d take a look at three of the main reasons why imaginative play is so important.

Helps to build social skills
One of the key areas that your child will be working on while engaging in imaginative play is their social skills. These skills are a hugely important factor when it comes to how your child manages in the world, as of course, we have to communicate with a number of people on a daily basis.

Children typically don’t have a filter like adults do, which makes pretend play with others really important. They will learn how to listen to others, as well as how to make themselves heard in a group situation. Both of these skills will be vital as they grow more sociable.

Beyond basic communication skills, pretend play will help to build their conflict resolution skills and help to teach them how to navigate challenging situations with their peers.

Putting themselves in other people’s shoes when playing a role is also a great way of helping them to see things from somebody else’s perspective, which helps to teach them about empathy.

If a child is playing with a parent, this will also help to improve their social skills. They probably see their parents as role models, and often their play will be an imitation of things that they’ve seen their parents doing.

With the introduction of toys such as play kitchens, tool boxes and dolls’ prams they are often keen to copy what they have seen. We spoke to Play Like Mum who told us “letting your children copy what you do is a great way of leading by example, as it allows you to encourage good habits and behaviour. They’ll also love bonding with you!”

Allows them to be creative
Imagining scenarios and coming up with their own ideas helps them to explore the world and discover new things, and exercise their imaginations. Even without any toys or props, children are capable of making a game out of just about anything. We all remember playing ‘the floor is lava’, which make a big game out of just a room.

When creativity is encouraged early on, it can lead to great things in later life. Creativity is essential for everything from science to parenting, and it will serve them well to keep exercising their own creative muscles.

Sadly levels of creativity tend to decrease as people grow older, so it is important to keep on encouraging this. See here for a professional view on this.

Helps them develop language skills
One final very important reason for encouraging your little ones to engage in imaginative play is that it will help them to improve their language skills.

One way that it achieves this is by using symbols. For example, children often use one object to signify another such as a hairbrush for a microphone or a blanket as a cape. This train of thought is also helpful for language skills because our words are also symbols.

Words stand for thoughts or ideas in the same way that play props stand for other objects, and this connection helps them to develop the ability to represent things symbolically. 

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