The sky is the limit! How pretend play benefits your child

January 12, 2024
The sky is the limit! How pretend play benefits your child

As parents and caregivers, we often prioritize teaching our children essential academic skills in preparation for school. But alongside the basic ABCs and 123s, there are other aspects of school readiness that shouldn’t be overlooked that are also important to the growth and development of a child. Imagination is one of them! Encouraging imaginative, or pretend, play in our children not only sparks creativity but also lays a solid foundation for their cognitive, social, and emotional development.

What is school readiness?

Kids are usually five years old when they start kindergarten, but being ready for kindergarten isn't just about age. It's about having strong relationships with caregivers and positive environments to learn starting from the time a baby is born. Families, caregivers, and communities all have a job to do in helping kids grow up healthy and ready for school.

There are many aspects to being “School Ready” and parents and caregivers can begin preparing children from the day they are born through positive interactions, simple conversations, and play. 80% of brain development happens in the first three years of a child’s life so it’s never too early to begin talking, reading, singing, counting, and playing to boost brain development.


Why is imagination so important for school readiness?

Well, imagine a classroom where children are unable to think creatively, problem-solve, or express themselves imaginatively. Without these skills, children may struggle to engage fully in learning activities and may find it challenging to adapt to new situations or tasks. On the other hand, children who have developed strong imaginations are better equipped to navigate the complexities of the classroom environment and to approach learning with curiosity and enthusiasm.

So, how can we as parents and caregivers nurture our children's imagination? The answer lies in engaging in imaginative play together. Here are some practical tips to incorporate imaginative play into your daily routine:




Ask Open-Ended Questions: Encourage your child's creativity by asking open-ended questions that spark their imagination. Instead of simply asking, "What did you do at school today?" try asking, "If you could be any animal, what would you be and why?" or "What do you think aliens would eat for breakfast?". Kids love being silly and will be so excited to have you join in the fun.
Keep Simple Props Handy: You don't need fancy toys to inspire imaginative play. Simple props like cardboard boxes, blankets, stuffed animals, and dress-up clothes can provide endless opportunities for creative exploration. Encourage your child to use their imagination to transform these everyday items into anything they can dream up.


Join in the Fun: Don't be afraid to get down on the floor and play alongside your child. Role-play different scenarios, act out stories, or create imaginary worlds together. Not only does this strengthen your bond with your child, but it also demonstrates the value of imagination and play.

Encourage Storytelling: Help your child develop their narrative skills by encouraging them to tell stories and even make up their own. You can provide prompts or story starters to get their creative juices flowing, or take turns adding to a story together. Your kids will love seeing you getting involved with their creativity!

Emphasize the Process, Not Just the Outcome: Remember that the goal of imaginative play isn't to create a perfect finished product—it's about the joy of exploration and creativity. Celebrate your child's imaginative efforts and encourage them to experiment, take risks, and think outside the box. Create with them, follow their lead, and celebrate their imagination!


By incorporating these tips into your daily routine, you can help cultivate a rich imagination in your child, setting the stage for success in school and beyond. So let's embrace the power of play and unleash our children's boundless creativity as they embark on their learning journey.

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