Imaginative play is something which comes in so many forms in childhood. Even though it seems like a simple and uncomplicated form of entertainment for kids, it really is a fantastic way to enhance a child’s development and help build healthy minds. Our resident teacher Miss Cook takes a look at why role play is such a great tool for learning.

The reason role play is so engaging to most children is because they will naturally want to mimic the adults around them. It then becomes our job to guide, accommodate and present challenges to enhance their development. This, for example, could be us becoming a customer at their pretend shop.

Role play can encourage children to want to play with other child in their imaginary world. If other’s are involved, even if they aren’t children, this interaction can help develop social skills. Entwined with this is the development of their language and communication skills. Role play could help a shy child come out of their shell as it may encourage them to express their ideas and solutions to problems.

We often hear children verbalise their thoughts to themselves whilst they are playing as they talk through their thought processes and act out the characters’ roles. This is a way for children to develop their language skills and their understanding of the the world around them. They might replicate actions and vocabulary that they see or hear at home (e.g. play kitchen or play DIY).

Accommodating your child with role play toys which they can associate with something they have seen in the real world could really help to enhance their problem solving skills. This extends to toys not specifically designed to mimic adult routines but those that involve making something new, for example building a bridge with a construction set or building blocks. Problem solving could develop their creativity, particularly if the toy is colourful and engaging. It could inspire them to play more and pursue the development of the skill that they are learning.

Overall, role play toys can really transport a child into a different world where they can have the confidence to be who they want to be for the day or for as long as they like! This is why we as parents should actively encourage role play as much as we can. We can be their customer in their play hairdresser’s salon, their guest for pretend dinner or their apprentice at their make-believe workshop. It’s a wonderful thing to see the magic and creativity in their own little world – all the time learning, and they don’t even know it!

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