Imagination is the language of children and play is how they express themselves. You see it when they turn sticks into wands, cardboard boxes into spaceships, or when they dress up like chefs, firefighters, or fairies. When you start digging into the reason behind all this creativity, the importance of play becomes obvious. After all, it’s not just about having fun. It’s about learning, growing, and figuring out how to navigate this great big world we live in. Imaginative play benefits kids because it…
…Facilitates Mental Growth
When kids engage in open-ended play, they have countless opportunities to try new ideas and experiment with new ways of thinking. They get to problem solve and figure things out by doing—talk about super-fast learning. Does this puzzle piece go here or here? What happens when I put this block on this one or move it over here? Although it may not look like it, there’s a lot of trial and error going on as they paint, roll out playdough, or cook dinner in the play kitchen. Each interaction is a chance for them to learn something new and incorporate it into their understanding.
…Supports Social Development
As kids get older, pretend play alongside others is the way they roll. It’s a chance to test out new skills and watch what other kids are doing to get a different perspective or see a different approach. “Hey, how’d they do that?” and “I want to do what they’re doing!” are kids play mantras for a reason. When they negotiate, share, and interact through play kids can connect their feelings to actions. It helps them both express and cope with those great big feelings kids have.
…Builds Communication Skills
If you’ve ever watched kids play (or played with them) you may have noticed that they sure do talk a lot. You’ll hear them explaining what they’re doing to anyone who will listen. Sometimes they sing songs or recite rhymes as they go. Imaginative play is a chance for them to learn new words and phrases and try them on for size.
Lucky for us, kids are naturally curious, and they seek out opportunities to play creatively whenever possible. But if you want to give them a nudge in the right direction, set up an invitation to play. All you need is a few materials and enough time for kids to explore and investigate.
It’s easy to set up an invitation to play with Whole Wide World Toys’ World Village Playsets. These thoughtfully designed Ireland and China playsets are all about imaginative play. Simply layout the colorful play mat with its matching wooden puzzle nearby. Then prepare to be amazed at the way your kids instinctively move the puzzle pieces around the paths, pretending to be Joe and Emma exploring new towns overseas. Listen to them walk you through their explorations, read the travel journal along with them, and keep them engaged with thoughtful questions that let their imaginations soar!
More Resources on Imaginative Play:
- The Importance of Pretend Play by Scholastic
- The Need for Pretend Play In Child Development by Psychology Today
- Why Play Matters by Family Lives
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