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Benefits of Imaginative Play

I saw a meme that said, “What’s parenthood like? Go spend 52 bajillion dollars on toys. Then watch your kids go all out Hunger Games over a stick. It’s like that.” – 21st Century SAHM.

But oh how wonderful that is. We see a stick. They see a magic wand or sword. Or maybe a snake or a lever to a draw bridge that leads to a new land.

While the toy industry has created marvelous props for imaginative play (hello, have you seen the kitchens? They’re fancier than my own!) The beauty of imaginative play is kids are given the freedom to create a brand new world that just might revolve around a stick.

CECPTA strives to provide a plethora of educational opportunities for families. Imaginative play is perfect because it has so many benefits and is also great fun! It will foster the development of language, social, and creative thinking skills.

Language Skills

If you listen to a child engaged in play, you will probably hear new words or phrases. This is a fabulous way to practice new and even made-up vocabulary. It also reveals to them the power words grant to tell a story or reenact a play. It’s the beginning link between spoken and written language which is essential for learning to read.

Social Skills

Through role playing, children are allowed to explore themselves and their world. They practice negotiations, transfer of knowledge, balancing other’s ideas with their own, recognizing and regulating emotions and managing roles and tasks. This almost sounds like a managerial job description, but these are essential skills imaginative play is developing.

Creative Thinking Skills 

“What can we use for the roof of our castle?” “We want to play family, but we both want to be mommy. What will we do?” The ability to become a critical and creative thinker cannot be forced, but it has to be developed. By providing your child with imaginative play opportunities, they will be forced to tackle these questions and problem solve. The hunt for the perfect material or the task of role assignments are times to practice this creative thinking.

The benefits of imaginative play are easily achieved. Grab a blanket, teddy and some tea cups and watch them become absorbed in a world of teddies and tea (or in our case lemonade). Maybe they’ll bring a dinosaur and the tea will transform into lava or Ariel will join us and the cups become fish tanks to house all her friends. Whatever it may be, I guarantee it will be a window into their world and the way they experience life, challenges and fun.

5 Tips to Encourage Imaginative Play

  1. Provide props. Some of the best props can be boxes, blankets and pillows, old baby bottles or kid sized play sets. Mix in real life props with play props.
  2. Join in! Don’t be afraid to turn into a dragon or join in the tea party. Be sure to let the child be the leader.
  3. Got a problem? Present a problem to solve or fix.
  4. Explore real life skills. Invite your child to join you. While cooking dinner, your child can pretend to cook alongside you with their own tools.
  5. Read a book. Connect play to a book and encourage them to expand the story.

Join CECPTA for an imaginative play social this Friday, November 6th!

About the Author

Kammie Powell is the Education Social Chair and has been a Board Member for 5 years and member for 7 years. She is part of the Green playgroup and Orange alumni playgroup. She is wife to William and mom to Coretta (7), Liam (5), and Everson (1). She enjoys feeding people, listening to podcasts and audiobooks and singing in a praise band.

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