Children discover and learn new things every day. They become sponges and absorb everything around them as they get to know themselves and the world around them. Imaginative play is an integral part of growing up as it helps develop their problem-solving, social and creative skills. Learning through experience is an important part of any child’s development and should be encouraged as much as possible.
1. A Social affair
When playing and imagining scenarios children learn how to communicate and work together. They learn different social cues, how to react or not react and develop a sense of self as they navigate their pretend world. When talking with one another they are engaging in conversation skills, learning how to listen and answer, even though there might be an argument or three.
2. The art of conversing
When speaking to one another, children will pick up new vocabulary and learn from each other. Children can freely express themselves without being corrected by an adult, thus eliminating the fear of embarrassing themselves.
3. Put some emotion into it
Imaginative play has the potential to bring forth different emotions in children. Happiness if the outcome is positive or even anger when someone is feeling left out. Nobody is more expressive than children because they have not experienced the hardships of life as most adults have. They can freely and excitedly express themselves in different ways, learning what emotion grants what reaction.
4. Movement and confidence
Having the freedom to move around freely and expressing themselves, children become more confident in themselves. Using different tools and gestures, children can discover what they enjoy doing and whatnot. Testing out different ideas and movements without being restricted creates a space for a child to be whoever they want to be.
5. A play area
Although imaginative play can be done anywhere, having an allocated space for children to use is a good way to activate their imagination. By using certain play equipment or a certain area with toys and props, a child eventually learns that the only limit is their imagination.
A designated area in a classroom and outdoors will get the kids excited to participate in pretend play.
6. Give them ideas
It is all fine and dandy to provide the means but as a teacher or even a parent, you can explain different scenarios to them. Or even show them a movie or video, giving them ideas that they can use themselves.
Sometimes you can even join in, just make sure you do not begin telling the children what they can and cannot do. Imaginative play is supposed to be just that, imaginative. If a child is pretending to be a doctor and is going about it the wrong way, do not correct them. They are merely discovering new things about themselves, their peers and their environment. Some children are naturally shy and if corrected in front of their peers, will retract and maybe even refuse to participate again.