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


What is Pretend Play and Using It to Boost Intelligence in Children

By Andrew Loh

One of the often used technical words in parenting is “pretend play.” Although, there are many definitions to it, the most common and aptly fitting definition for pretend play is “including any conventional and imaginative play” in the lives of children. Pretend play is essentially linked to language, math, and narration, abstract thought, solving problems, catering to sequential thought, story creation within the mind, social skills, emotional and cognitive skills and assuming the larger role of a player within a group. Young children have their own way of learning by doing and imagining things. The entire process of pretending play helps children in learning many essential life skills.

Learning social and emotional skills

Pretend play helps children in learning how to perform experimentation with social and emotional roles of life. Pretend play also involves learning how to cooperate with team members. Cooperation means living peacefully with others, sharing responsibility, avoiding conflicts, and problem solving. When children indulge in pretend play, they usually assume the role of diverse characters. In other words, they would be assuming someone else's role to perform certain tasks which eventually assist them in learning how others behave and act. This would help them in mastering the skills of showing empathy. Empathy means learning how others feel and how we respond to other people's pain and anguish. Pretend play also helps children in mastering the art self control and managing emotions. Another advantage is building self-esteem.

Mastering language skills

While pretend playing, children are more likely to utter some words and phrases whose meanings are only known to them and their friends. These words are the building blocks for learning language skills. Pretend play also involves mimicking parents, relatives, teachers, peers and others who play an important role in children's daily life. Children also learn in what manner they can use certain words and phrases to give a broader meaning to the context of the play. Spoken and written language is entirely different and pretend play may help children understand the difference between both of these words. When a connection is established, children would also learn how to read and write.

Developing thinking skills

Life is full of unknown problems. A person who learns how to solve them will emerge as the ultimate winner. Pretend play helps children solve diverse range of problems that they might face in the future. Problem solving is an important cognitive skill and children may streamline their cognition by pretend playing with others or alone. Pretend play is not just “simple play and enjoy activities.” It needs highly advanced and sequential thinking skills like devising new strategies, establishing communication, and developing ability to expressing self. With pretend play, children also learn how to negotiate difficult situations, work on different perspectives, streaming thoughts, develop an action plan to put those thoughts into action, work on given tasks and achieve the desired goal or task.

Brain development skills

Early brain development is an important aspect of a child's life and pretend play may help children in building most essential brain developing skills. As they put their brain in to more use, additional cells are generated and newer brain pathways are created. Pretend play makes brain very active and an active brain always become agile brain that is extremely smart and intelligent.

Synthesis of knowledge and similar skills

Learning does not happen under a situation that is sedentary and dull. Children need help in finding some opportunities to mix and blend their skills and knowledge in a seamless manner. Pretend play is a perfect example of this approach. For example, children pretend playing the role of a teacher in classroom would involve actual teaching by using the most appropriate words, managing time, controlling student behavior, managing their emotions, speaking to them as they write on a black board, connecting with imaginary students and to help them learn lessons. This exercise involves making connections with different aspects if daily life and to manage situations that are different and disconnected.

Pretend play comes naturally to all children. However, some of them may not use it because of missed opportunities. Pretend play could be developed with parents' active help and cooperation. Some pretend play activities need things and materials. Parents may like to supply them to their children so that they will involve themselves for at least 30 minutes in a day. Just imagine when children pretend play the role of a teacher by wearing the actual dress that is donned by the teacher! Watch how children pretend play the role of a doctor and patient. Pretend play is an essential part of a child's life. The more child uses it the more would he or she becomes smarter in life. Read Some ideas and Activities on pretend play here.


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