How much time does your toddler spend partaking in imaginative play? These days, it’s more likely to see toddler’s transfixed by a screen than it is to see them using their imaginations. This means they could be missing out on essential development skills.
Research has revealed that imaginative play helps a child develop creativity, be socially competent and have much more understanding towards others. Therefore, if you want to help your little one develop these essential skills, it’s a good idea to start encouraging them to use their imaginations.
Here, you’ll discover the top reasons why imaginative play is important for toddlers.
Helping To Boost Social And Language Skills
When your toddler takes part in pretend play, did you know they’re actually developing social and language skills? So, how exactly does solitary pretend play improve social abilities? Well, it’s because when your toddler is using imaginative play, they’re focusing on someone else’s needs, other than their own.
Whether it’s an imaginary friend, or they’re making up imaginary scenarios with their toys – your little one is practicing looking after the needs and wants of someone else. Even if they aren’t real, this is still helping your child to learn more about social skills and the needs of others.
As they are making up their own stories, toddlers are also able to expand their language skills. Their minds start to be able to turn ideas into words, making it easier for them to start expressing themselves. It’s also thought children who do partake in imaginative play have a much better understanding of grammar, along with the words they’ve used, compared to children who don’t use their imaginations during play.
Of course, the better their social and language skills, the better they’ll do at school. If they partake in imaginary play with their peers, they’ll experience even more benefits. Part of pretend role playing involves listening to orders and rules given by others. So, their listening skills will develop at a faster rate, too.
It Can Help Your Toddler Work Out Scary Scenarios
It’s common for toddlers to start taking part in imaginative role-playing scenarios which relate to things in everyday life that they’re wary of. Especially common is the doctor’s office role play.
You may notice they use their dolls, teddies and other figures to act out a visit to the doctors. This will likely involve being checked over with a stethoscope, before getting shots. The reason they do it is because scary scenarios such as the doctor’s office, play on your little one’s mind. They use the imaginative play to make sense of the situation and it can also lead them to feel more comfortable during their next doctor’s visit.
So, imaginative play can really help your little one to come to terms with potentially scary situations and develop the skills to handle them.
It Helps Them Combine Skills And Knowledge
Imaginative play can also help toddlers combine the skills and knowledge they’ve learnt so far. It’s really important for children to be given opportunities to blend together skills and knowledge as they develop at such a fast pace.
Think of the common grocery store pretend play scenario for example. You’ll start to see your toddler’s grocery store skills improve as they get older. It will start out pretty basic, where they’ll pretend to be the shopkeeper and they’ll pretend to sell goods to their imaginary customers. Then, they’ll progress onto grouping specific types of pretend groceries together, they’ll start to create their own store signs and eventually they’ll even start trying to work out the grocery bill.
Seeing them put all of their knowledge and skills together and watching them progress can be really rewarding. It also helps them to transfer these skills into everyday life.
It Boosts Their Problem-Solving Abilities
During pretend play, your toddler will come across a number of challenges. Remember, they learn from the world around them so if they see you or other adults going through various dilemmas, they’re going to start using those as inspiration for their pretend play. This means they’re going to also need to work out solutions to different issues which may crop up.
Imaginative play can really boost your little one’s problem-solving skills, making it easier for them to solve any problems which may crop up in their own life later on.
It Enhances Emotional Development
Another awesome benefit of pretend play, is it really helps to enhance your toddler’s emotional development. Not only will it help them to understand more about different feelings, but it will also help them to express their feelings in a more effective way.
How To Encourage Your Toddler To Partake In Imaginative Play
Imaginative play is practically a natural instinct for your toddler, so this means it’s really easy to encourage them to use their imaginative skills. Simply limit the amount of time they’re allowed to spend watching TV or playing on your smartphone and follow some of the tips below:
- Provide suitable toys and props
- Read them more stories
- Give them a separate area to practice imaginative play
- Play along with them
The above are the best ways to encourage your toddler to take part in more imaginative play sessions. Reading to them more is an especially great tip as it helps to build their imagination. Through the stories, they’ll learn more scenarios, and this will be followed through into their play sessions.
Overall, imaginative play is extremely important in terms of toddler development. So, if you want to help ensure your child is happy, healthy and developing at the right pace, start encouraging them to use their imaginations, rather than watching something on a screen.