What Every Parent Should Know About Pretend Play
As your child grows, he or she will go through several different stages of play. They will spend the most time in the Preoperational Stage, which begins around age two and goes through age seven. During this developmental stage, your child will engage in dramatic play, including making up games and taking on fantasy roles. Role playing is an important aspect of language and cognitive development, so as parents it's important to provide your child with the tools to expand these skills.
Preschool Dramatic Play and Language
As a Speech-Language Pathologist, I absolutely love watching and listening to a child's language growth, during preschool dramatic play. Their use of creativity and imagination is amazing. You will enjoy listening to your child go from speaking in short phrases to full sentences, as they develop characters and play themes.
Did you know…
- This is an important time for children to play with children their own age. They learn problem solving and sharing skills through their play.
- Children grow their vocabulary while discussing play ideas and different scenarios with their peers.
- Parents can encourage their child's thinking skills by asking them thoughtful questions.
Parents often ask me suggestions for toys that encourage language development. My answer always is “Think simple”. The less noise a toy makes the better it is to spark imagination and language. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love the learning that occurs with electronic learning toys, but it is also important to teach your child how to play with toys that require imagination (not batteries).
With a little creativity of your own, you will be amazed at the play schemes you can set up for your child with objects you have around the house. Choose topics that seem to interest your child and set up toys that will encourage them to develop an entire play scheme. Your child will love having fun with a few props, your guidance, and a lot of imagination. You can also invite another child over and watch the magic of learning unfold.
Does your child love to draw, color, and read books? Help your child play “school”. Materials around the house: Set up a play school with a calculator, ruler, a doll or stuffed animal, a few books, blank sheets of paper, pencils, dry erase board and markers, and a bell.
Is your child obsessed with airplanes or trains? Build a play train, airplane, or car and pretend to go on a trip.
Materials around the house: Create a vehicle with chairs, an object shaped like a circle to use as the steering wheel (Frisbee or cut out from cardboard), blankets, suitcases and/or bags for luggage, dolls or stuffed animals for passengers, large box.
Is your child afraid of the dentist or doctor? Role play the scenario. Materials around the house: Help your child practice an appointment using dolls and stuffed animals, medical tape, band-aids, toilet paper (to use for wrapping up injuries), a small notepad, and a small doctor kit bag to put all of the tools in.
Does your child love to build Legos and blocks? Encourage construction play by decorating and building tall towers with boxes.
Materials around the house: Take block play big with large empty boxes, tape, markers, crayons, stickers.
Are you looking for some more ideas? There are so many more preschool dramatic play ideas on Pinterest. What are your child's favorite toys for encouraging imaginative play?