Have you ever wondered why children in daycare and preschool settings spend the majority of the day on the playground or exploring in the classroom? Have you ever thought to yourself, my child is in ‘school,’ they should be in more of a structured environment?
If you’ve found yourself in this situation, you are actually in luck! While some believe pretend play has limited educational value, the experts think differently!
What Are The Benefits of Pretend Play?
Pretend play is a vital component to child development. Believe it or not, imaginative play teaches a variety of fundamental skill sets – skill sets that we use for the rest of our lives! First and foremost, it builds language skills.
Children practice using their own vocabulary, while at the same time it is also an opportunity to teach new and more complex vocabulary. Play is a great opportunity for kids to also practice more complex grammar and sentence structures that they learn through exposure in things such as books, movies, and adult storytelling.
Caregivers can further facilitate this learning by modeling and narrating what the child is playing. It builds cognitive functioning skills such as decision making, organizing thoughts in play, judgement making, and enhances attention and focusing skills. Furthermore, it encourages social skills, teaches empathy and turn taking to name a few.
Pretend play also gives children an opportunity to explore, discover, and learn about themselves and the world. And through these explorations, children begin to develop personal interests. The interests they start gravitating towards often develop into passions and in turn create dreams!
Children tend to play and imagine things they are familiar with, things they have been exposed to and taught. Therefore, it’s important to provide them with narratives that inspire their play and eventually influence their interests and passions.
Since kids are so impressionable at such young ages, it is imperative to expose them to content that is free from stereotypes and prejudices, from content that encourages following their heart beginning at a very young age. This content should give them a view of the world in which they can become whatever they dream and also content that encourages independence.
How Books Influence Pretend Play
Stories act as windows for children, where they see their own reflections shining through. Expose your child to positive content and encourage them to recreate their favorite stories through pretend play!
Queen Girls Books and Pretend Play
An excellent example of this positive content is Queen Girls, a new collection of children’s books! The creators are taking inspirational women from the past and turning their stories into fairy tales. Their mission is to inspire girls to follow their dreams and envision them as possible, which is why the stories are based on real women.
The first story in the collection is Bessie, Queen Of The Sky. This book features Bessie Coleman, the first black women in the world to receive her pilot’s license.
Queen Girls is even taking it a step further. In order to reach as many children as possible, for every book purchased they will be donating another to non-governmental organizations geared toward encouraging children to spread their wings and fly.
If you are interested in the Queen Girls mission and want to be part of the movement, please support their collection and receive a limited edition of their first book!
Additional Ways To Encourage Passions Through Pretend Play
♥ Create teachable environments that nurture those dreams
If your child likes bugs take her to museums, create a bug collection, turn into bugs together. Or if your child enjoys airplanes, turn the kitchen table into a jet, run through your backyard with your arms in the air, visit an airport. Pour the water in the pot, so you can watch them bloom!
♥ Follow your child’s lead
Let them be the leaders, and then jump in!
♥ Engage with excitement
Children feel joyful when their caregivers get excited. Show enthusiasm, if you are interested in what they like, it creates a sense of fulfillment!
♥ Keep an open-mind
Don’t place rules and restrictions on your child. Allow your mind to be free of gender stereotypes, foster diversity, and flood them with positive content!
Let them explore on their own and allow them to come up with their passions themselves – watch from afar and let your child learn for themselves.
Andrea Doshi, from Chicago, co created Queen Girls. Working with children as a speech language pathologist combined with her experiences traveling have fueled the inspiration for this project, teaching her first hand that girls from all around the world are struggling to dream. Andrea loves flying just as much as Queen Bessie!
@queengirlspubl (Instagram, FB, Twitter, Pinterest)