Pretend Play Buying Guide
Pretend Play helps your child translate the world around them into terms he can better understand. Seemingly routine daily tasks can be recalled and re-enacted by your child, and therefore, absorbed on a more applicable level. These familiarities help prepare him for the "real world," but lets him enjoy learning and developing his memory, while processing the world around him in a way he understands. Experiences beyond that of the every day, from pillaging pirates to flying fairies, let your child expand his imagination and simply, have fun!
Features to Consider
What catches your child's eye or piques his interest? Find a toy that helps make his fantasy a reality. Is there something he really enjoys watching you do, like using a screwdriver or ironing a shirt? Kid-sized versions let him play the role of "adult." Of course, this is a wonderful opportunity to further expand his horizons, from test-driving new hobbies to checking out new careers. Best of all, a child's play does not have to be based in reality. In fact, it is better if they use the wide range of pretend toys to create new worlds and explore the depths of their imaginations.
The best way to sum up the value of pretending; it is unbelievably open-ended.
Here are some ways your child can play:
- Dressing up in costume makes it easy to play a new role.
- From pets to wild creatures, children can appreciate animals he may not otherwise be able to have through puppets and toy figures.
- A child that loves to perform can be the center of attention, from singing and dancing to amazing the crowd with a magic show.
Some Age Group Suggestions
Your child may start pretending to a degree before you even realize it! But, after 12 months of age, he will be able to begin pretending actively. Early ways toddlers can pretend and play can be as simple as “vroom-vrooming” with a toy car or playing peek-a-boo. While a younger child may emulate what he sees more than create his own play situation, he will quickly develop the ability to do it himself.
As your child reaches school age, the pretending does not stop, it just evolves into bigger and better play! At this point, if not sooner, a child may play as a way to better understand and tolerate situations and the world around them. The evolution of a child’s experience truly depends on the desires of the child himself, but the following are broad suggestions of what a child may enjoy at each age.
3 and 4 year olds
5 and 6 year olds
Vehicle play sets
Play kitchen sets
Dress-up and pretend toys
Puppets and plush
7 and 8 year olds
Beginning spy kits
Basic fashion and makeup kits
Toy figures and play sets
9 year olds and up
Role playing toys or toy figure play sets
More advanced spy toys and kits
Music boxes & jewelry boxes
Where Will They Use It? (Play Environment)
One of the most outstanding benefits of pretend play is that fact that just about any place can become a perfect backdrop for play. Any room of the house, that old box, or an empty kiddie pool could become just about anything that kids can imagine. Your child's bed can be an igloo, canoe, or giant shoe. Or, children may be just as satisfied sitting on the grass or on the floor and pretending away.
While kids can pretend without much space or accessories, keep in mind that some play items can be larger in size and require more space for storage or play. In addition, if toys take time to assemble, those large items could stay together for a long time!
Ways for Adults to Play/ Adult Involvement
Pretend Play is so versatile - while a child can play on his own, other children, as well as adults, can play along as well. You can let your child call the shots and determine your role in playtime; and more than likely, he may choose to switch the everyday roles. He's the doctor, you're the patient; he's the chef and you're the restaurant patron. Enjoy this opportunity to see what your child is capable of achieving! If your child needs some assistance, be there to help, and do not worry about correcting how a child plays or mirroring reality - there should be no rules! This is a good chance as well for you to help your child get started with play ideas, which can only help them along with decision-making in the future.
With such a variety of ways to think, learn, and play, your child will develop several crucial skills through Pretend Play.
Pretending to be a firefighter, farmhand, or fairy will require quite the physical prowess! It’s up to the child at play, but they can be just as active as they want to be.
The undeniably important skill of problem-solving can be tackled on a different scale with pretend play. In whatever way they play, is a problem posed? Then it's your child's job to solve it! Pretend play also offers kids the chance to work through their reality, digest their everyday happenings, and explore possible scenarios for how to deal with whatever situations they encounter.
While pretending may reside strictly in your child's creative brain, more often than not he'll be speaking during playtime. This could involve playing two (or more!) roles in a conversation and working through possible dialogue.
Your child can make his own rules and orchestrate the direction of play. While he can also do this with you or a friend, playing independently helps him learn about himself and gain self-esteem. This role playing can especially aid in gaining strength emotionally, with pretend play serving as a way to deal with uncomfortable situations.
When kids include others in their play, their dramatic experiences take on a whole new meaning. And, since he may not be calling all the shots all the time, he can learn about taking turns and develop cooperation skills.
Types of Play
Pretend Play is the "living" way for children to be creative, with no guidance or conventions to control them. A costume, puppet theatre, or spy kit may provide a foundation, but kids can creatively take play in any direction from there!
Acting out and imagining is the foundation for all forms of pretend play! “Dramatic” may not necessarily mean boisterous and animated; it is just about using the imagination to fuel playtime.
Pretending with others is a fine way to play! While children can parallel play, pretending in tandem requires both children (or all, if there are many children) to at least be on the same page. Combining the creativity of many children with a certain level of cooperation helps build skills and leads to amazing results.
This type of play can be as active as your child desires or as their toys allow. Whether he is flying a plane, conducting a train, or acting like an automobile, it's easy for him to pretend actively!
While your child's play time can be very upbeat and busy, it can also be a calm, solitary affair. Perhaps a few unusual creatures (say, a cow and a knight) are merely hanging out, with little excitement or activity beyond some quite, basic play. Even in these instances, children will grow and learn through their own unique exploration.