Kids Thrive during Pretend Play

Published: 09th July 2009
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Don't ignore the wise words of Albert Einstein when he said "The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge, but imagination." All parents want to set their child up with a head start in life and to encourage pretend play is one of the best things you can do to enhance your child's creativity.

Kids love to pretend. Don't you have fond memories of adventures and imaginative activities? Little did you know that when you were playing, you were actually learning useful skills! Imaginative play helps children to increase socialization and learn to share. Children of different ages can play together, seeing the similarities among themselves. It hones communication skills, and helps shy kids emerge from a shell. Individual personalities are allowed to blossom. Planning skills, problem solving and speech and action abilities are developed.

Encourage Pretend Play
What can a parent do to encourage pretend play? First of all, remember kids will do what you do, not what you say. Roll up your sleeves or kick off your high heels and get into being Royalty for awhile with your child. Lead the rafting trip down the Amazon, turn dinner at the kitchen table into a night at the Ritz, or barbecue out on the range of the Wild West in your backyard.

Fun Items to Spark Imagination
Supply kids with toys to encourage pretend play. One of the best gifts I ever gave my daughter was an old suitcase from a thrift shop filled with items I found there: A feather boa, a sequined purse, some old prom dresses, skirts, blouses, scarves and costume jewelry. The whole shebang cost almost nothing, and she and her little friends (all of whom were green with envy over the treasure trove) spent endless hours, day after day, becoming housewives and princesses and prom queens and business executives. You might also want to consider investing in some complete kid's toy play sets such as a lemonade stand, play kitchen, play workshop, pirate ship or looking into other items that offer a variety of imaginative motifs: Pirates, cowboys, superheroes, etc.

Four Fun Pretend Play Ideas
1. Playing Family: Spend an afternoon as a family, but swap roles. This time you can play the child and your youngster can be mom, or use a dollhouse and dolls as the home and family members. Either way it's all pretend. Make sure to set-up the play space with items that can make this time more fun and open up your imagination. You might want to consider using a play kitchen or get out some old clothes and hats to set the scene. Playing family is a wonderful way to learn more about what your child is feeling and how he or she sees the family structure. It will also let your child see through your eyes and help enhance his/her compassion for what it's like to be the parent who is trying to keep their child in line. This game isn't just fun it's also quite educational for both you and your child.

2. Playing Hotel. Talk to your child about the different roles at a hotel such as check-in, concierge, bellhop, guest, manager and anything else you can think of. Set up your play area with all the essentials needed to create your own hotel environment. Decide which roles you and your child will play. It can be fun if you play several roles throughout the play time. Some suggested items to enhance Hotel play are play cash register and pretend money, kid's table for check-in, paper and pen to write down guest's names, a play tent that you can set-up like a suite with pillows and blankets and luggage to make it even more realistic. Just remember, the key is to have fun and use your imagination.

3. Playing Restaurant. Encourage your child to think of all the roles of people in a restaurant such as: waitress, waiter, hostess, manager, cook and guests. Decide who will play which roles. Set-up the play area with items that might be found in a restaurant including: paper and pen for waiter to use, crayons to create a menu, chalk board to write down specials, clothes for the waiter's uniform, kid's table and chairs, play money and cash register, play kitchen or kitchen supplies like a cookware play set and play food set. You might even consider using real food to spice the play time up a bit. This pretend play game is a great way to teach your child about proper restaurant dining and also spend some quality time goofing around and using your imaginations.

4. Playing School. Discuss school roles and who you will be such as: teacher, student, office assistant, principle, lunch worker and janitor. Make it more exciting by adding some of these fun play items: kid's desk, kid's table and chairs, paper and pencil, chalk board and some play clothes so you can really get into character. You might also want to set out some educational toys to use as props for the pretend classroom. Some suggestions are: alphabet blocks, or a balance beam for gym class or maybe some musical instruments for music class. You might find that going back to school is even more fun than you remember.

The opportunities are endless. If you can help your children to develop creativity and build dreams, you will have given them the best gift of all for a lifetime. And who knows? You might just find your own inner child coming alive with new ideas and imagination as well.

Creating a strong bond with your child is every parent's goal. Kim Proulx, a Certified Parent Coach, understands the importance of connecting with your youngster. One way she encourages parents to build that relationship is through play. has beautiful doll cribs and other doll furniture to enhance any dollhouse and make playtime more fun.

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