Flower Girl Dress by Whimsy Wendy

Flower Girl Dress by Whimsy Wendy
dropping petals... one by one.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Importance of Their Imaginations

I love watching children tranform themselves into whatever they can dream up. Their imaginations can take them to a land of "make-believe". When my girls were younger they would conjure up magical worlds where they could fly on cardboard wings, sing on giant stages into hairbrush microphones and become invisible in a nano-second. Even as they get older, I love to encourage them to continue this pretend play. It is a variation of what they used to play, but it seems to stretch them into broader persons... dreaming of what could be.

One of the things I love most about making my creations is wondering what my tutu or cape is going to be.... a prima ballerina or a fairy godmother? A super hero or a knight? The possibilities are endless and timeless.

But the experts say pretend play isn't all for fun. It is an essential and critical part of a child's development.

"Young children learn by imagining and doing. Watch a child pick up a stone and pretend it is a zooming car, or hop a Lego across the table as if it were a person or a bunny? Children use an object to represent something else while giving it action and motion. But this pretend play is not as simple as it may seem. The process of pretending builds skills in many essential developmental areas.

Pretend play builds social and emotional skills. When your child engages in pretend (or dramatic) play, he is actively experimenting with the social and emotional roles of life. Through cooperative play, he learns how to take turns, share responsibility, and creatively problem-solve. When your child pretends to be different characters, he has the experience of "walking in someone else's shoes," which helps teach the important moral development skill of empathy.

Pretend play builds language skills. Have you ever listened in as your child engages in imaginary play with his toys or friends? You will probably hear some words and phrases you never thought he knew! In fact, we often hear our own words reflected in the play of children. Kids can do a perfect imitation of mom, dad, and the teacher! Pretend play helps your child understand the power of language. In addition, by pretend playing with others, he learns that words give him the means to reenact a story or organize play. This process helps your child to make the connection between spoken and written language — a skill that will later help him learn to read.
Pretend play builds thinking skills. Pretend play provides your child with a variety of problems to solve. Whether it's two children wanting to play the same role or searching for the just right material to make a roof for the playhouse, your child calls upon important cognitive thinking skills that he will use in every aspect of his life, now and forever."

(This quoted article is an excerpt from a piece written by Ellen Booth Church, a professor in Early Childhood Education, education consultant and author.) To link to the article in its entirety, go to http://www2.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=10175.

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