The Importance of Imaginary Play in Early Childhood Education.
By: Goretty Monsalvo
What is Imaginary Play?
Oh, no! My bunny is sick!
I'm going to feed my baby
Imaginative play, occurs when a child role-plays experiences of interest, such as playing ‘school’ with their toys.
Children may engage in imaginative play alone or with others. There are several benefits that imaginative play contributes to a child’s development.
Imaginary Play Promotes Development in Early Age
Activities such as fitting a doll’s arms through her jacket’s sleeves are great for hand-eye coordination, as is learning to move and control her hands in different ways. Galloping around on pretend horses helps with gross motor development and coordination.
It also promotes language and social skills as it allows children to interact by talking to each other while they play.
Pretend play, boosts the development of problem-solving and self-regulation skills. Imaginative play with peers can create situations in which not everyone gets what they want.
For example, when more than one child wants to be King of the castle, the child who does not get what he wants needs to learn how to manage unpleasant emotions for play to continue.
Teaches Positive Behavior
Teachers can introduce situations to play to create “incidental learning” opportunities.
For example, when showering their doll, the parent might ask the child questions like, “what happens next?”, or make comments like “the water is nice and warm”, and discuss dilemmas “Oh no, Dolly ran out of soap!”.
Tips to encourage Imaginative Play
Provide plenty of props, play partners (both similar-aged peers as well as adults).
Give plenty of playtimes – let your child have as much time as possible to explore where the play takes them.
Dress-up parties are also a great way to both promote imaginary play and keep children entertained!
Involve them in your daily chores and incorporate incidental learning into these situations.
(For example, while you are preparing dinner, you might invite your child to cook alongside you with their play items.)
Absolutely none! But, if a child often behaves in a way during play that causes harm either to themselves or others, or if a child develops a strong preference for solitary imaginary play at the expense of social play, it may be worth seeking the advice of a qualified child development professional.