One of the best ways in which young children learn is by using their imaginations and actually physically doing things and putting their skills into practice.
Just think how many times you’ve seen a child pick up a seemingly inanimate object, and turn it into something completely different, like a rocket ship?
While this might all seem like a bit of harmless fun, children are actually using their imaginations to build up their skills in many areas which will benefit them as they grow up.
While children engage in imaginative play, they are exploring social and emotional roles, all in a safe environment.
This is especially true when they get to playing with other children, at which time children will have to learn how to share and work with others to solve problems and get along.
We spoke to the guys at Play Like Mum, retailers of Silver Cross Dolls Prams, who said: “Pretending to be other characters and people also plays an important role in your child’s development, as it puts them into somebody else’s shoes and teaches them empathy, showing them that they aren’t the only person in the world and underlining the importance of the needs of others.”
Children pick up all kinds of words when they’re playing, and if you listen in while they play, you might find out that they know quite a few words which you had no idea they knew about!
This is because kids naturally imitate and pick up what they hear from mum and dad (so be careful!), but imaginative play gives them the chance to put this all into practice.
Play also allows children to understand the power of language, giving them the chance to organise the play, and tell stories.
Here are some top activities which will help develop your child’s speech and language skills, courtesy of iCommunicate.
Problem Solving Skills
Playtime actually throws up a lot of problems for your little one to solve. It could be that them and their friend both want to play with the same toy or looking for the right pieces of Lego to finish off their masterpiece!
All of these problems will force children to use their brains to think up solutions and will help develop skills which they’ll take with them throughout the rest of their lives.
Sometimes disagreements may come up when playing with other children, and while this obviously isn’t ideal, it can help your little ones to regulate their aggression, letting them know that that kind of behaviour is unacceptable, and hopefully getting it out of them in safe situations like this, rather than manifesting later on in life.
Ultimately, imaginative play teaches your children about themselves, and the wider world, teaching them what they do and don’t like, and giving them control over their own playtimes.
The less scheduling and rules you place on them, the more your child will express themselves, and develop their early cognitive skills naturally.
For some inspiration on activities which can encourage imaginative play, check out this list from Learning 4 Kids.