Let’s Play!

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“Play is the highest form of research.” ~ Albert Einstein

The Importance of Imaginative Play

Fantasy play is correlated with other positive attributes. In preschool children, for example, those who have imaginary friends are more creative, have greater social understanding and are better at taking the perspective of others, according to Marjorie Taylor, a psychology professor at the University of Oregon and author of the book “Imaginary Companions and the Children Who Create Them.”

Imaginary friends can also be used to help children cope with stress, Dr. Taylor says. “This is a strength of children, their ability to pretend,” she says. “They can fix the problem with their imagination.” – WSJ

From Early Childhood News – Dramatic play enhances child development in four major areas:

  1. Social/Emotional – When children come together in a dramatic play experience, they have to agree on a topic (basically what “show” they will perform), negotiate roles, and cooperate to bring it all together. And by recreating some of the life experiences they actually face, they learn how to cope with any fears and worries that may accompany these experiences. Children who participate in dramatic play experiences are better able to show empathy for others because they have “tried out” being that someone else for a while. They also develop the skills they need to cooperate with their peers, learn to control their impulses, and tend to be less aggressive than children who do not engage in this type of play.
  2. Physical – Dramatic play helps children develop both gross and fine motor skills – fire fighters climb and parents dress their babies. And when children put their materials away, they practice eye-hand coordination and visual discrimination.
  3. Cognitive – When children are involved in make-believe play, they make use of pictures they have created in their minds to recreate past experiences, which is a form of abstract thinking. Setting a table for a meal, counting out change as a cashier, dialing a telephone, and setting the clock promote the use of math skills. By adding such things as magazines, road signs, food boxes and cans, paper and pencils to the materials included in the area, we help children develop literacy skills. When children come together in this form of play, they also learn how to share ideas, and solve problems together.
  4. Language – In order to work together in a dramatic play situation, children learn to use language to explain what they are doing. They learn to ask and answer questions and the words they use fit whatever role they are playing. Personal vocabularies grow as they begin to use new words appropriately, and the importance of reading and writing skills in everyday life becomes apparent by their use of literacy materials that fill the area.

Dramatic play engages children in both life and learning. Its’ real value lies in the fact that it increases their understanding of the world they live in, while it works to develop personal skills that will help them meet with success throughout their lives.

Image Credit: Pinterest – Mia Cavalca

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“Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play children learn how to learn.” ~ O. Fred Donaldson

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