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Dream On: Discovering the Importance of Imaginative Play

Editor's Note: This article was originally published by with the title "Why is Imaginative Play Important?", written by Anne Kienzie. 

“But what will she DO with it?” the customer asked.  We were discussing a play pizza set.  I could have gone on and on, but instead just said “Endless possibilities…that’s what makes it a great toy.”

I wanted to talk about the extent to which imaginative play forms a child’s mind.  About how it allows them to create a world in which they can comfortably explore boundaries and act out scenes they’ve seen in their lives… but with alternative endings.  But my answer seemed to suffice and off she went with a beautifully wrapped pizza set for a little girl who is currently taking orders and delivering pizza to every room in her home.

My favorite memories as a child are the ones where we played store, or school, or house.  We dressed up, took orders for dinner, graded chefpapers, rang up sales…all the things we saw in real life we transformed into our little bedroom where we had control of the situation, could create the stories we had in our heads, and test various outcomes.   A child wants to investigate the world around them and role playing can provide a safe and controlled environment to do just that.  They are able to take on different personas and explore what it’s like to do or be something different…all while fostering confidence and a strong sense of self and maybe even a flair for drama!

A child’s initial role play is often pretending to be mom or dad.  This allows them to experience life as an adult and imitate the things they see grown-ups do…make dinner, grocery shop, pay the bills…all with a child-like twist.  They’re learning to problem solve and starting to experience real life skills. Recreating situations gives them an opportunity to act out how they might react differently and to see the world through others eyes…allowing them to explore and develop empathy.

Imaginative play also sets children up to discover some basic social skills.  Often times there are multiple children playing, so team work and cooperative play become important.  They start to learn how to negotiate and take turns … “you can be the princess this time and I’ll be the dragon…next time we’ll switch.”   Leadership and cognitive thinking skills can be discovered through role playing as well.  Are all the children being included?  Will your child bring them in and give them a “part” in the activity?

At the heart of imaginative play is IMAGINATION.  Who wouldn’t want to be an astronaut one day, a chef the next, and a firefighter the next?  Wouldn’t it be so fun to build a pirate ship out of a card board box, put on a tiara and a cape and sail off to rescue some monsters stranded on a desert island?  Studies have shown the long term importance of fostering a child’s creativity.  They become better problem solvers, they’re more prepared to handle real life conflict situations and, in general, become more well-rounded adults.  Child-guided play gives them so much…self-confidence, problem solving skills, empathy, language development, leadership, creativity, and a million fun memories!

So go out and get a sword, a boa, a cape, and some play food and let your imagination soar!  Now…what would you like on your pizza?

What's your child's favourite scenario or profession to act out? Let us know below! 

Posted by Sandra Smith in Parent, General ← Previous Post Next Post →

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