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One way children learn is by imagining and doing. Pretend play is one of the ways children learn about themselves, their families, and the world around them. Pretend play is about so much more than creativity and imagination. There are many important skills that children develop as they pretend to be a fireman, dress up like mommy, teach a classroom full of stuffed animals, or fly to the moon. For instance, have you ever seen a child pick up a block and pretend it’s a phone? Using an object such as a block to represent something else actually demonstrates the development of abstract thinking, which requires higher-level thinking skills.
“Pretend play gives children opportunities to realize the differences between reality and fantasy. When children pretend to be someone else, they have the experience of “walking in someone else’s shoes.” Through these repeated pretend opportunities and maturation, children will begin to see their world from another’s point of view. It’s the way we as humans can develop empathy.
Children delight in the adult’s perception of or participation in their pretend play. Through these repeated pretend opportunities, they begin to see the power of language. Recognizing what language can do is an important pre-reading skill. Children learn that words create the story. They begin to see the connection between written words and the spoken word.
Do you encourage and/or facilitate pretend play at home? I’d love to hear about your favorite adventures!