Pretend play is incredibly important for child development. In preschool children it helps them develop their thinking, emotional, social, and language skills. Today I’m sharing three easy ways to encourage pretend play and imaginative play in your children.
We love to play pretend at our house. Dressing up as favorite characters, imaginary friends, animal imitations, play cooking, working, and telling stories are all a part of our daily life with a preschooler and a toddler. Experts say that kids who are encouraged to use their imaginations at a young age will be more creative as adults. Here are three simple ways to do just that for your children.
1) Keep costumes, props, and dress up clothes available all year round. Lots of folks dress up in costume on Halloween, but what about the rest of the year? Life is better in costume, people. When you think about Halloween costumes this year, consider ones that can be used through the years to play pretend. We keep costumes and dress up clothes easily accessible in a toy box in the Pearl Girl’s room so both kids can grab them any time. A friend keeps her family’s dress up clothes hung on hooks at kid level in their play room. Her girls are constantly changing outfits and scenarios to pretend. Our Pearl Girl has been wearing a tutu daily the past few weeks, and today Bear dressed as a cow. They had so much fun. We have play food and cooking utensils in our play kitchen (in the real kitchen), and bring out other props regularly.
2) Introduce and create scenarios. If your child is not yet pretending on their own, introduce the idea by asking them to imitate you or something they’ve seen. When we pass by horses or cows on our daily drive (Texas, y’all) we neigh and moo like they do. After a visit to the zoo we act like the different animals we’ve seen. After watching a favorite movie we put on a costume and sing a song or imitate our favorite character. The Bear and his daddy have a pretend routine where they pour each other coffee and talk about their day. It is the cutest thing.
3) Get involved. The most important thing you can do to encourage your child’s imagination is to participate and play along. Get down on the floor and be a cow, too. Moo with them and practice other animal noises. When they tell you a funny story about their imaginary friends, listen and ask questions. Tell stories and read to them throughout the day. I know I can so easily get distracted by the phone, the computer, my own busyness, or the never ending piles of laundry, but those are not really the most important parts of my day. I want my kids to remember how Mommy played with them and delighted in them.
How do you encourage pretend and imaginative play for your children?
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This post is sponsored by BuyCostumes and contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own.
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