The Benefits of Pretend Play
When your children run around the house pretending to be superheroes, Doctors and everything in between, they’re developing many core skills without even knowing it! Below, we take a look at the top 4 skill sets they're developing through pretend play and why they’re so important.
What Is Pretend Play?
Firstly, let's explore what pretend play is! Pretend play is a key part of a child’s development. Kids learn by watching, imagining, and taking part. Learning through play is seen by experts as an essential part of children’s development, and pretend play is a key factor in nurturing their growth and helping them hit important developmental milestones.
1. Language Development
Alone or in a group, when your little ones are creating their own fantasies they are improving their vocabulary. Experts have found that children who engage in pretend play use more sophisticated forms of language than they would in normal situations. This is because kids are role-playing adults and repeat the words and snippets of conversations that they hear.
Likewise, when playing with adults new words around the topic of play are introduced and added to their vocabulary. Expressing ideas and plans for a play session has children learning how to vocalise what they're thinking. This enables them to communicate their ideas and thoughts with others.
2. Creativity and Storytelling
Creative expression begins at an early age! Kids make up imaginative stories and support them by using play props to represent ideas, objects, and people. Whether they’re pretending to be a Chef with their pretend play food or are role-playing a Doctor, our little ones are imagining themselves in that life and creating a new world of opportunity and excitement.
Children can process scary or unsettling situations through play, especially if they’re anxious around medical settings like hospitals. Pretend play means they’ll spend time thinking about what a Doctor might do and say and what would happen next. Creative play helps children navigate emotions, identify how things make them feel, and explore solutions through play.
3. Teamwork and Social Skills
Pretend play encourages little ones to use advanced social, communication, and cognitive skills. Kids learn to negotiate through taking turns, consider other people’s points of view, and share ideas and listen to others. They learn how to be patient and get other people to listen to their ideas and thoughts.
Children also learn to develop their social and emotional intelligence through pretend play. It’s a great way for them to understand social cues, recognise and regulate their emotions, and understand the importance of taking turns.
4. Self Expression and Independence
Through pretend play, little ones can explore and express their own needs, likes, and abilities. Children often feel more comfortable in a play setting and are more likely to talk about worries and frustrations. Playing in their own little world also allows them to develop independence. Through making choices in play and entertaining themselves they’re learning how to have separate lives from their parents.
Encourage pretend play anytime you can through creating/buying props, asking questions like “What do you think a fireman would do?” and allowing them space to explore imaginary worlds in their own time. You can explore our range of award-winning Pretend Play toys here.