Imaginative play is a key part of your child’s development. Watch your child as they role-play and you’ll see how much impact day-to-day life can have on them.

Plus, you can see how key people in their life — like you— can influence their world.

So next time the kids are complaining that they’re bored, why don’t you pull out the dress-up box and start a game of make-believe? Your children will surprise you with just how much fun they have, and you’ll see them develop before your very eyes. Read on to find out how.

Play is Practice
I love watching my girls play; it gives me an insight into their unfolding personalities. My eldest always takes the leading role, but my little one will speak up (vey loudly!) if she feels uncomfortable for any reason. This reassures me she can do the same in real life. By acting out different scenarios, my girls test the waters, see how others might react to their actions or words, practice language, independent thought, and also conflict resolution. Goodness knows they need that last skill.

Skills for Life
A favourite game in our house is the play-dough ‘sweet’ shop. The girls spend ages making a variety of ‘sweets’, arranging them in their shop and then taking it turns to be the customer, using more play-dough as the money. They learn skills such as counting, sorting, identifying shapes and colours, as well as how to take turns, share, and the concept of money.

Happy and Healthy
Imaginative play encourages your child to be active. After running fifty times around our kitchen bench, pretending to be in a horse race, my girls are worn out and sleep really well. And if I give them a bucket of water and some beach toys in the garden, I won’t hear from them for hours. They’re too busy digging, scooping, making sandcastles and mud pies — each activity improving coordination, strength, fitness, sleep and appetite! Plus, I love to see their little faces smiling.

Language and Literacy
Ever heard the intense chatter coming out your child’s mouth as they role play, as they describe what they’re doing in great detail or what they should try out next? It never ceases to amaze me how well my girls can use their tenses and what a wide vocabulary they have. And most of it is tested when they play (believe me). Studies of imaginative play have also found that immediately after a pretend enactment, children can use narrative more effectively.

A Wonderful Destination
By far the best outcome from imaginative play is the chance for them to launch their creativity and experience the true magic of being a child. Dining room chairs that become a train to the North Pole, magic carpet rides on the rug, fire-breathing dragons under the couch, the list is endless. There’s no limit to their imagination. Just start them off and see where they fly. For where they end up could be truly amazing.

Author

Eleanor is a full-time mummy, part-time editor, and rest-of-time-blogger. She’s also writing her first book! Life is busy, but she wouldn’t have it any other way. You can usually find Eleanor tapping away on her laptop, reading in bed, and hugging trees. She loves trees. She’d also really love to finish her novel at some point this century, but there always seems to be so much else to do. Despite choosing the most frantic time in her life to write a book, she’s come to realise, there really is no better time than now to follow her dreams.

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