Why Pretend Play is Such a Powerful Tool

posted by Gomathi Kannan, July 23, 2018

We all talk about play as being a great way to sharpen the brain. Pretend play, in particular, is very powerful and often therapeutic. Here's why it is such a great teacher.

While grown-ups see things the way they appear, kids have a talent to imagine an object to be anything they want it to be!

Stones become stores and clouds become candies. Kids can imagine enigmatic things that are far from reality, yet attribute detailed traits that make them more relatable and engrossing. While we assume these are nothing more than a distraction themselves from boredom, studies have proved that it more than just play. Pretend plays are educative. They improve a child in various aspects, few of which are listed below

Pretend play unleashes creativity

Role-playing demands creativity. There are no rules, co-players and sometimes no toys too. Kids build a whole new universe just in their dreams. Some kids prefer playing the same pretend play games (being a teacher could be their favorite). This still demands creativity because they have to constantly invent and reinvent to keep their play interesting. This cute little teacher could be in a new school or with a new student or teaching a new lesson! Every day and every play is a fresh game for them.

Builds language skills


'Pretend play' in a group teaches more language skills than reading a book. The members of the play are organizing thoughts, sequencing them, and conveying their ideas in a language, that many a times, they are just beginning to learn or totally foreign. They scan their mind for words and experiment in real time. The speak, understand, rephrase, and strive to communicate through sign languages and expressions when at loss of words. When playing alone you can hear their silent whispers of monologues and dialogues with dolls of their staged plays.

Pretend play sharpens social skills

When a kid refuses to go to school its very hard to convince them by lectures but in a role play where the child convinces his dog to go to school, he/she not only opens up to convey why he/she disliked going to school in the first place but also imagines what changes would make school more enjoyable. It teaches them to express feelings through communication rather than actions.

Pretend play trains children to analyse themselves and be empathetic in understanding other people and their feelings in a given scenario. In a group play they learn to take turns, be responsible, to be a team player and also lead.

It teaches problem solving

Kids imagine flying a paper plane. They aim to hit a perfect target and succeed or miss and retry. This simple pretend play teaches them to begin with learning to make a paper plane, calculate its flight pattern, experiment with differences in the size or shape of the paper, analyse the pros and cons of the various launch pads (Sofas,chairs,tables),understand the effect of the dimensions of the target,devise a projectile strategy and retry. Every simple play could teach so many math, science, engineering and problem solving skills. Kids grasp information through a fun way even without realizing them.

It aids personality development

Every child uses pretend play to understand more about themselves, their interests, their capabilities, their strengths and weakness. With Pretend Play, Kids become creators of a whole new imaginative world, decision makers, planners and performers. They learn to design a plan and work towards goals, and this gives them a sense of accomplishment and brings a great deal of confidence at a very early age. Some pretend play scenarios teaches them organisations kills, social norms and vital life skills. It fosters a great and strong personality from a budding age.

How can parents introduce or encourage pretend play?

    1. Get involved in their pretend play scenarios and enjoy their imaginative world

    1. Acknowledge and visualize a different perspective or an imaginary friend. Avoid stopping their flow to teach them the reality. Let their thoughts flow, though weird they might sound.

    1. Challenge their ideas with a question or a pretend emergency situation.

    1. Constantly Introduce them to a lot of different places (through vacation, camps or even a short trip to a park or grocery store) books and stories. Give them lots of inputs for them to choose their pretend play scenarios from.

    1. Venture outdoors to activate their brains and reduce the availability of toys. When at home suggest them to switch occasionally from from their favorite toys to a crayon or a simple wand. (Do not force).

    1. Gift them a pretend play set or Toka box for endless hours of fun!



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