To start off, here’s a fabulous quote from the book, Einstein Never Used Flashcards. It’s a wonderful book full of information all about child development and the importance of play in a child’s life. I think every parent should read it.
Make-believe play involves separating oneself from the here and now. It involves acting as if. It is part of what makes us human and serves as a a platform for other symbolic thinking, even beyond the domain of language – in math, physics, literature, economics, and art. When children enter the world of pretend play, they are the kings and queens of a new world – a world that they can build and control. Instead of relying on actual objects as they are, they now have the power to transform them to serve their own purposes. This is creative thinking at its best.
As this quote above states, make believe play encompasses so many ways of learning. It’s not just about silly play time, it’s when a child can be truly in control of their world.
Why Make-believe Play is important:
- Facilitates creative thinking skills – “And, what happens next?”
- Helps with self-regulation – the ability to control emotions and behavior, resist impulses, and exert self-control and discipline.
- Language development by storytelling and talking through the make-believe play
- Social development – acting as someone else and talking about and exploring social niceties.
- When playing with others they learn to share and work together
The part of make-believe that is so important to me is emotional development. When working as a trained mental health therapist practicing play therapy, I saw how emotions and hard situations are all acted out through play. Children often do not have the words to talk through a tough situation and instead they use their primary language of play to act it out. Make-believe play helps children work through difficult emotions and situations, and is important for their emotional development.
Make-Believe Play starts at around one year old when a toddlers mimics of others become a bit more advanced. They start doing things like pretending to talk on the phone, or pretending to drink out of cups. This is the beginning of make-believe. From there it just grows and grows.
Activity #10: Start Make-Believing!
- Turn off the TV and other screens. Children need time away from these things to get creative with their play.
- Provide them with toys. Put away all the toys that make noise with the press of a button. Instead provide kids with stuffed animals, action figures, cups, balls, spoons, blocks, cardboard boxes, sticks, etc. I read somewhere that a good toy is 90% child and 10% toy….or toys that he child must make-believe to make work. You know all the oldies but goodies.
- Gather dress up materials. If you don’t have child sized dress up stuff, go into your closet and pull out high heels, men’s ties, jewelry, big shirts, makeup (if your ok with it), and other things that your child may like.
- Place all these things in a place for your child and ask if they would like to play with them.
- Join in on the play, but try not to lead it…let them lead you. Get involved and enjoy the play!
Tomorrow: More Make-Believe…Small World Play