Who doesn't like playtime? It’s all about having fun and playing games, or it may look that way when you watch your toddler play. However playing is hard work for toddlers. As your little one plays with his toys, eats, plays with cups in the bath, pushes their car across the kitchen floor, they are also learning. They are learning language skills, about people, science and math, as well as discovering everything their little body is capable of. Oh, and don’t forget about creativity and imaginations. Pretend play is essential to your toddler’s learning and development in so many different ways.
One might not think of pretend play and imagination as a milestone, but if you’re toddler hands you a block as a cookie or imaginary pie they made and asks you to eat it, they are making an extremely important leap in their development. So what does pretend play teach your toddler?
Problem solving – Ever look at your toddler and wonder where all the energy comes from? Their little minds are moving just as fast. My daughter has a doll that she gets ready for bed every single night. She looks for everything her doll needs to hit the sack next to her, or when she plays with her big sister.
Self-esteem – When your toddler pretends to be the teacher, mom, dad, princess, or police officer they are putting him/herself in someone else’s. My daughter pretends to be a princess all the time; you can instantly see her self-esteem get better. Her head goes up and she has a princess walk that is to die for, but either way she’s playing a role that makes her feel good.
Speech – While they pretend play with dolls, phone, cars, or stuffed animals all that chattering you hear is awesome and only strengthening your toddlers vocabulary.
Pretend play is beneficial to our toddlers, what are some ways we can support pretend play? Here are a few tips to help encourage pretend play with your toddler:
- Keep containers of all sizes around - I don’t know why, but most toddlers love containers, boxes, and other fun items they can fill up or put stuff in.
- Keep stuffed animals of all shapes and sizes around – some children love their stuffed animals and can really get into the pretend play with a group of stuffed animals.
- Dress-up – Allow you’re little one to play dress up.
- Paper, Pencils, crayons
- You can play too
- Watch the clouds
There is just a few way to help you keep pretend play live. It’s extremely beneficial and our job as parents to support out little ones as they learn and grow. My daughter’s favorite pretend play is the phone. Everything can be a phone; she talks to just about everyone too. Now that she is getting older I can tell what she’s saying, but when she was young it was a little difficult. Imaginary play is something we take very serious in our house, lol. Okay we don't take it so serious, but we have a whole lot of fun with it and I get to watch my toddler learn and grow while she's having fun. It's absolutaly amazing how quickly chilren learn and grow, I love the fact that ehy have fun, can imagine almost anything, be totally happy, and learn all at the same time.
What’s your child’s favorite pretend play object or pretend activity?