The value of pretend play for kids is easy to miss; after all, kids are just playing, aren’t they? But as they play, they are managing an entire world. They are creating order out of confusion and sorting out all the bits of information they have collected so far. As they pretend and imagine, they even stretch the boundaries of time and space. This is a massive task.
March is the only month using an action for its name. When it comes to kids, they are all about action, body, mind, and emotions. You have likely heard the expression about ‘marching orders.’ During pretend play, kids are in charge, they are the ones giving the marching orders. That is, they are creating the rules and figuring out what people say and do. They are ordering their world.
Our brains and bodies are connected to such a degree that just imagining an action is enough to trigger a response. For example, when we think about going up in an elevator, our eyes go up. Imagining can also affect our emotions. During imaginative or pretend play, kids can feel both positive and negative emotions to a more controllable level. They can feel scared, angry, frustrated, surprised, or hurt without being overwhelmed. Because at that point in time, they are in charge, kids can explore a range of situations and match the feelings.
To a child, adults seem to be able to do anything and be anyone. This can be fascinating to kids, and so they too want to be the boss, the mom and dad, restaurant waiter, store clerk, nurse, dentist, police officer, robber, bus driver, and whoever else they think of. Often, they want to be the baby, or a family pet, complete with the appropriate sounds.
The brain is particularly active during pretend play. Some thinking skills are choosing, planning, and problem solving. Kids are using complex language and special vocabulary as they interact with others, either real or imaginary.
The value of pretend play is essential to children’s development and learning. Can your child have some pretend play fun today.