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The Secrets to Raising a Smarter Child
- By Inderbir Sandhu, Ph.D


Promoting Imaginative Play in Children

By Andrew Loh

....“A little girl is cooking some food in her imaginative kitchen and learning numerous lessons in the process”

....“A young boy is constructing a home for himself and his family and later asking everyone in the home to see the house he has just built”

.... “Two young boys are role-playing the role of two super heroes who are trying to save the world from enemies”

What is common with all these seemingly childish activities? All these three instances of child's play relate to a type of play called “imaginative play”. Imaginative play is a vital activity in a child's early age. During a session of imaginative play, the most vital learning takes place in child's brain and its interiors. What a child learns with this brain-based learning is an ensured gain in many skills and capabilities such as:

  • Social

  • Physiological

  • Psychological

  • Emotional and

  • Intellectual

Imaginative or pretend play is an important type of play that a child creates and sets in motion to learn a series of critical skills. Pretend or imaginative play involves a series of mechanisms like:

  • An enhancement to convert objects and actions in a symbolic and pretending manner.

  • Development of social, personal and dynamic skills that involve conversation, dialogue and intense negotiation processes.

  • Streamlining of logic and thinking skills.

  • Improvising many other brain skills.

You can find some ideas on games activities for imaginative play here!

Most parents still feel that play time is just a tool for children to relax and soothe their minds and bodies. They also feel that excessive play is detrimental to classroom performance. In addition, parents still believe that learning music, dancing and other similar activities are good for sharpening brain activities of children. However, pretend or imaginative play is the best tool to boost brain development among children in addition to enhancing children's overall growth. Apart from these advantages, parents may also help their children to get ready to go their schools at a later stage.

Now, let us look at some of the most beneficial advantages of role and imaginative play:

Enhance social skills - Two critical advantages of imaginative play are finding out most appropriate social roles and finding out newer ways to converse and interact with other people. Social skills are very critical for a child's future survival. With imaginative play, your children would be able to learn how to share, how to take turn in a queue, how to listen to others with patience, and live in an amicable manner with peers.

Enhance intellectual and academic aptitude skills - abstract thinking and pattern making are as important and critical as any other brain skills. Other skills that children might learn are symbolic and representational thinking. Symbolic thinking involves counting numbers, reading pictures, and relating both of together to create meanings.

Boosting communication and linguistic skills - Imaginative play involves talking and conversing with fictional and imaginary characters. It also helps children develop conversational skills with meaning. As children talk more, they will also develop their vocabulary skills and speaking with conviction.

Emotional and intellectual development - Imaginative play is an excellent tool for children to vent their feelings - happiness and sorry, joy and sadness and excitement and frustration. When children vent and explore their feelings, the immediate benefit is creating a stable and robust mind accompanied by sound and healthy brain. With meaningful play, children also learn how to take control of dicey situations to their advantage.

Enhance self-confidence and self-esteem - In many of the imaginative plays, children usually don the role of an adult who possess the abilities to solve problems. Imaginative play assists children solve their own problems by imitating the mind of an adult. As they solve problems in their mind, they also develop a real life ability to find solutions to complex problems.

Above all, imaginative play is a fun-filled exercise too. Imaginative play is a vital activity of a child's life. Here are other important benefits of imaginative play:

Raise imagination skills - With role-playing and imaginative play, children always develop a capability to imagine things, situations, scenarios, and images that eventually helps them perform better in areas of academics that relate to logic, fine arts and music.

Acquire leadership skills - One of the prominent advantages of imaginative play is acquiring leadership skills to lead people and exploit existing situations to clear advantages. Leadership skills do not come so easily to all children. Extended imaginative play can help children build this skill so that they can use it in real-life situations.

There are many ways your children you can engage in imaginative play. They can use innumerable toys and play-sets to play imaginatively or they can just role-play with other children to create life-like situations. Whatever the types and forms they choose, one thing is certain - it helps them grow as productive and smart individuals. Continue to read Promoting Imaginative Play in Children - Practical Suggestions.


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