The pretend play of childhood is often just considered valueless fun. The truth is, though, the ability to turn an ordinary bedroom into a princess’s private quarters or a soldier’s bunker takes critical thinking, problem solving, coordination, cooperation, and a great deal of flexibility in thinking.
Imagination and creativity matter.
Imaginative play offers many benefits for children.
Through pretend play children:
- work out their confusing, scary, or unknown situations. For example, by playing doctor and giving shots, children can demystify the whole “getting a check-up” thing.
- learn about themselves and the world in which they live. Have you ever seen a child acting out a family? Or making dinner in a pretend kitchen? Or being the grocer in a game? These activities all help them know who they are and how they fit into their world.
- develop higher order thinking skills. Pretend play requires complex social skills and communication. Kids learn to negotiate, consider other children’s solutions, and transfer knowledge from one situation to another. They learn to delay gratification and to compromise.
- cultivate social and emotional intelligence. Interacting with others is a crucial life skill, and by engaging in imaginative play with others, kids work on this in a tangible and life-skills developing way.
- synthesize knowledge and skills. When kids play in the toy kitchen, they sort and classify food, prepare it according to how they’ve seen mom or dad do it, organize their thinking and serve the meal.
Play Prompts to Spark Imagination
Children’s days are getting more and more structured, but it’s so important to give them freedom to use their creativity.
Over the next few days, I’ll share simple play, creativity, and critical thinking prompts you can set up for your kiddos to spark their imaginations. You have all the tools and materials you need right at home to raise super-creative kids, ready to take on the world.
If you can’t wait, and want to get start playing creatively with your kids right now, you can grab a copy of my book, Raising Creative Kids: A Collection of Simple Creativity Prompts for Children. Over 70 pages, loaded with play prompts, questions, and celebration ideas for you and your child to use right away to bring the whole family’s imagination to life.
In many ways, spending a few hours engaged in cops and robbers, princesses and paupers, or other imaginative play, is as developmentally important as any art class or sports team.
Allow time for fort building, don’t rush your kiddos through schoolwork or chores. Then, jump in, don a pith helmet of your own and wield a sword to protect your queen – you and your child will be better off for it.
Don’t forget to come back throughout the week to find great – and simple – ways to spark you children’s imaginations. And share your own ideas in the comments. I’d love to hear how you keep your kids’ creativity engaged.
Click the link for more ideas for your homeschool — from using Netflix to enhance your kiddos’ learning, learning by playing games, to a collection of engineering challenges — the iHomeschool Network has you covered!
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