Children all seem to love make believe play; having a tea party with their toys, or dressing up in whimsical costumes, for example. But did you know that pretend play toys are more than just fun? The right toys can also play a huge role in childhood development. Let’s take a look at the things make believe play can do...
1. Encourage imagination & creativity
Perhaps the most obvious benefit of pretend play is that children can ask – and answer – questions that go beyond the confines of their own everyday life. Children naturally begin to possess this ability for thinking at a young age. Pretend play provides an outlet for them to express this safely. Fancy dress costumes may seem like little more than make believe to us parents, but to children they’re a chance to ask ‘what if?’. What if… I was an owl? What if… I was a mermaid? In fact it is the perfect way to encourage creativity.
2. Build social skills & confidence
When children watch their grown ups making meals, many of them pick up a new favourite hobby: pretending to make to cook! And designing play times based on real-life scenarios such as this is excellent for building social skills and confidence. Roleplay toys can help children learn how to behave in various different scenarios. Perhaps they pretend that their friend is off sick from school. This helps them to identify coping mechanisms for the real world. It allows them to practice their reactions to different situations, and gives them confidence in the future.
3. Develop language skills
If you’ve ever overheard your child talking to a soft toy, you might have been surprised to find that their speech patterns were quite different to how they talk to you. That’s because they’re pretending. Pretend play often involves a lot of impersonation, and children may use words, phrases, and intonations that they’ve heard mum, dad, gran, or teacher using. Mimicking these language styles is great. It helps children to understand why different words are used in conversation, and when they should be used.
4. Encourage essential motor skills
Some parents avoid things like toy tea sets, because learning how to drink tea properly is a lot less relevant today than it once was. What they don’t realise, however, is that toy tea sets and toy kitchens aren’t about teaching children to use specific items. They’re about introducing children to a variety of different objects that must be held in certain ways, helping to develop their essential motor skills. A small tea cup, for example, can boost hand-eye coordination as children raise the cup to their lips.
5. Fun, Fun, Fun!
While pretend play is essential for childhood development, the most important thing about it is that it’s fun! With no strict rules when it comes to make believe, children can create whatever situations interest them, ensuring pretend play is always fun. And when something’s fun, it motivates kids to do it more. Pretend play toys build motivation to play. This helps to alleviate boredom and offers a healthier alternative to sitting in front of the television, or using an electronic device. It makes kids want to be kids.
Encouraging pretend play at home
Pretend play can be encouraged from an early age simply by introducing safe roleplay toys, and creating environments that engage little ones in play. Check out our full range of pretend play toys for inspiration.