Every child loves pretending, they do it throughout most of their early years and it is something that we carry through into adulthood; though instead of acting out our ambitions, we indulge ourselves in the pretend world through television and cinema.
But why is role play so important for your children?
Interestingly, role play is one of the most researched areas of child development as many researchers believe that one of the many foundations of a stable adulthood is the development that takes place through childhood role playing. Kittie Butcher of Michigan State University says that:
“Imitating what adults and older children do is an important way that young children learn about life. Every area of development – physical, cognitive, communication and social/emotional – can be enhanced through engaging in pretend play or make-believe.”
Indeed, when children are playing with their toy oven, microwave or tea party sets, they are not just learning how to act, but by giving teddy that extra lump of sugar, they are absorbing social norms and expressing them in one of the most natural ways known to them.
In fact, you can also predict later behaviour based on how they play in the present. If a child is found to be more withdrawn in their playing then they may actually be subject to social anxiety, loneliness and depression in later life.
Though this may sound sad, identifying and working with the problems now can change the behaviour and outlook of a child in later life.
In fact, pretend play has also shown that there is a positive effect in regards to academic achievement. In an experiment conducted by Dickinson and Sprague (2002), they found that the more time young children converse with each other during pretend play, the higher marks they will achieve in literacy tests at the end of kindergarten.
But if your child struggles with pretend play, how can you yourself encourage this?
The most obvious and by far one of the most effective ways of encouraging your child into pretend play us to provide the tools necessary for the activity.
For example, if your child wants to be a chef when they are older, then perhaps an all in one BigJigs pretend kitchen unit would be a great way to get them motivated. In fact you can find a range of BigJigs pretend play toys from the wooden toy shop; a great online store for all toys wooden.
If you find that this tactic simply isn’t working, then you can try other ways to get your child to enjoy the act of pretend play.
Of course, the problem could well be that your child does not particularly like playing a certain game.
If you can, try and get them to look at it from a different perspective or encourage a different way to play the game. Of course, if your child is merely playing a role playing game, then the rules are open to change!
Getting your child into roll play is as we have already found, highly important and putting time into making sure that your child enjoys this is crucial for their development; whether that is creative, educational or social.