When children pretend that they’re their favorite superhero or a princess, even when they create original characters it seems like they’re just being kids. But what they’re doing is engaging in imaginative play, which is actually complex and a great way to improve their development.
Why Imaginative Play Is So Positive
Imaginative play or pretend play has many important benefits for children. For one, this kind of play encourages your children to be creative beyond belief. A child’s imagination is powerful, so all they need is to be encouraged to create stories, characters, and adventures full of wonder and originality.
This kind of play also allows children to recreate experiences and to reflect on how the world works and how people interact with each other. When your child engages in imaginative play, they’re reflecting on their experiences and recreating social situations through play. This allows them to make sense of how things work and social interaction. Through imaginative play, children practice interpersonal skills that will come in handy when they socialize with other children and adults as well.
When children engage in imaginative play with other kids, it provides the opportunity for cooperation and conflict resolution. They learn how to reach compromises and how to make exchanges; if we play what you want to play, then we can play what I want to play and everyone’s happy. This is extremely important to learn not just among friends, but also among siblings, and it will help your children when socializing with strangers.
Tips for Imaginative Play
If you want to encourage imaginative play, allow kids to play alone, but also encourage them to include friends, siblings or even you! When children play by themselves, they let imagination take the wheel. When they play with others, they get to practice emotional and social skills. Both of these things are essential.
Encouraging imaginative play is also about allowing your children to lead. When you play with them, let them make the rules. If they ask you for help, suggest ideas, but encourage them to come up with their own prompts.
If you notice your children are particularly creative in the way they come up with stories or use their toys, make sure to praise and encourage them. It’s great when children can follow instructions, but if they choose to practice free will and creativity, never shut it down.
Pretend Play Ideas
Tea Party: Tea parties are a classic and it’s all about dressing up and pretending you’re in a fairy world, a heavenly garden, an enchanted castle, etc. You can help your kids set up their tea party in the yard or indoors.
Invest in some dressing up costumes or make them at home, and help them decorate their tea party with a specific theme. Hang some bunting, add a playmat, a tea set, and some scatter cushions.
You can take it a step further with fun activities, music, and real food or tea!
Pirate Ship: Pirate ship imaginative play is something that both boys and girls will enjoy a whole lot. Help them set this up with a laundry basket or a box for the ship, a broom for the mast, and a flag you can make together. You can make the pirate ship together and put together pirate outfits and then allow your children to direct the story.
Great games that can be incorporated with pirate play include fishing games, treasure hunts, hide & seek or eye spy to name a few.
Other iKids products that can help you set up great pretend play sessions are:
Elephant Tin Telescope
Magnetic Fishing Game