There are a great deal of benefits for young children when they engage in imaginative play. Four significant benefits being:
– Social and emotional skills development
– Language development
– Cognitive development
– Development of symbolic thinking
While understanding the benefits of pretend play is important to your child’s development, understanding how to encourage imaginative play is just as significant. This post will share five easy but ingenious ways to do exactly that.
1. Share Stories
During the early days of humankind, people gathered around to share and listen to stories. Group experiences like these allowed the older generation to pass down their wisdom to the next. This just goes to show that you don’t need a book with beautiful illustrations to tell a story. All you need is that one-to-one connection with your child and words that make your mind travel to a faraway places!
2. A BIG Box
A box, just a box! Any box will do, paired with markers, stickers, glue, ribbon, etc. Your child can use these materials to decorate the box and transform it into whatever their heart desires. Maybe it’s a cave, or a house – or even a spaceship!
3. Dress Up Time!
You know those old sweaters you have buried in the back of you closet? Well get those out along with anything else you may not wear any more (that Halloween costume you wore 10 years ago or maybe an old prom dress) and present them to your child. When a child dresses up, the next natural step includes role playing in virtually any fantasy world that their young minds can conjure up. Perhaps the house blasts off into space where they are off on their next adventure!
4. Add Stuffed Animals to the Mix
That stuffed dragon with glitter spikes may become a firefighter that saves the house from the fantasy world your child has created. When you are observing your child interacting with stuffed animals, you will likely be provided with cues as to what he or she is noticing in relationships and situations in day to day life. As an article from VeryWellFamily.com points out, “you encourage kindness and empathy in your child, you’re likely to see him being a caring pretend doctor or a chef who wants to please the people he’s feeding with healthy food.”
5. Embrace Downtime
When every moment of a child’s life is filled with structured activities, creativity is not being promoted. To prevent this, include time for pretend play, both indoors and out, so your child can also fly to the moon or help a dragon firefighter save the burning building.
Try incorporating some of these ideas in your daily routine and see your child grow and develop right before your eyes!