Play Tips throughout Childhood, How to enjoy Pretend Play, Tummy Time Tips

Playtime with your Child:
Parents Today

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As a parent, you are your baby’s first playmate. Play is a fun way for the two of you to bond and it encourages healthy child development.

Play is how children learn—about themselves, other people, and the world around them. It helps to build confidence, relationships, and basic skills.

Toys for babies don’t need to be expensive. They can be things you have around the house, as long as they are unbreakable, safe (no loose parts, broken pieces or sharp edges), and the right size (anything that can fit through a paper towel roll is too small). Good toys are washable, made to last and appeal to parents too. After all, you’ll both be playing with them!

There’s a lot on a parent’s to-do list, and playing with your kid doesn’t always make it to the top. But play is important for your kid’s development, and getting down on their level to goof off for a few minutes can actually shave some of the stress off your day. It’s a win-win. We turned to parents and experts to discover the best ways to have fun with your kid, at every age.

Words and music: Instant playtime

For the first year of your baby’s life, play won’t involve many toys. Reading, speaking, and singing are fun, easy and portable ways to play with your baby. And they are rich learning experiences. Here are some suggestions:

  • Use rhymes, games and songs as you go through the routines of your day. You can make up a diaper-changing tune, or try a little rhyme as you’re putting the snowsuit on.

  • Play with books. Read with your baby every day, and remember that babies also want to play with books. They like to put books in their mouth and try to turn pages, so provide clean and sturdy board books.

  • Encourage babble. It’s how babies learn to make different sounds using their own voice. Repeat these sounds, and turn them into real words. As you do this, you can make up all sorts of language games that are sure to delight your baby!

From birth to 3 months

Your newborn baby is developing hand-eye coordination. Reaching for and touching things, and learning how to hold them provides wonderful stimulation. Good playthings for this age include:

  • Cloths or transparent scarves that can be used for peek-a-boo

  • An unbreakable mirror placed so that baby can see themselves

  • Fabric “bracelets” (soft rattles that can attach to your baby’s wrists or ankles)

  • A set of plastic measuring spoons

  • Pieces of brightly colored cloth with different textures

  • Wooden or plastic bracelets that don’t have loose parts

  • Anything with a face on it—dolls, pictures, stuffed animals

From 3 to 6 months

At this age, your baby is developing both fine motor (using hands and fingers) and gross motor (moving arms and legs) skills. They are fascinated with their own hands, and starting to connect how arm and hand movements feel with their desire to make them happen. Toys that can help support your baby’s development include:

  • Sturdy rattles

  • Peek-a-boo scarves

  • Doughnut-shaped objects made from plastic or fabric, large enough to grasp

  • Pieces of brightly colored and textured fabric (terry cloth, silk, fake fur)

  • A play arch where baby can lie on their back and bat or kick at toys hanging above

  • Toys that make interesting sounds (rattles, shakers, chimes) are better than toys that make electronic sounds. Just be sure they are not too loud for the baby’s sensitive ears.

From 6 to 12 months

In the second half of the first year, your baby sees anything within reach as a potential toy. And if they can reach it, they will probably put it in their mouth. Your baby wants to know how things work, and what they do when they’re dropped, rolled, shaken, banged or thrown. Toys that are safe and appealing to babies this age include:

  • Stacking and nesting toys: A set of nesting cups and some sturdy blocks are a great investment. They’ll provide hours of playtime well beyond your baby’s first year.

  • Cups, little pails and other unbreakable containers

  • Large building blocks

  • Board books

  • A soft ball, as long as it is too big to fit in a baby’s mouth. Avoid balls with a plug/pin that could be a choking hazard if it comes out.

  • Shape sorters

  • Trucks, cars

  • Riding toys designed for babies this age

  • Soft toys small enough to handle

  • Percussion instruments: shakers, a small drum, or a “rain maker.” You can also make these from containers and fillers you have at home (for instance, put lentils or dry beans in a water bottle and secure the top tightly closed with some tape).

  • Toys that encourage “visual tracking” (following a moving object with your eyes), like a ball ramp, or a push-and-go rolling toy.

  • Bath toys, like boats to float and cups for pouring. Make sure they are cleaned and dried regularly.

Safety tip: Always check the label to make sure the toy is right for your baby’s age.

Active play

Active play really does start from birth. Very young babies need “tummy time” each day (while they are awake) to help strengthen the muscles in their neck and upper body.

As you encourage your 6-month-old to reach for objects or try new things, you’re encouraging active play. When they start to crawl, they will need lots of supervised floor time to explore.

Finally, make sure your baby doesn’t spend long periods of time in a seat, high chair or stroller. Avoid TV, screens and other electronic media. Babies learn best by engaging with loving caregivers, not screens.

How to play with your toddler

Stay close by: At this age, kids are becoming more independent and starting to develop their own interests, but they definitely still need you close by. This is because independence often comes with frustration, and having a parent who stays calm and helps them label their emotions and work through them is important, explains Positano. They also love to show off any new skills to trusted adults.

Puzzle them: Puzzles with large chunky pieces help develop motor skills and also help advance problem-solving abilities, explains Positano. Take turns putting in the pieces: You go first to show them how it’s done, then let them try without you jumping in—unless they get really frustrated. Connie Huson, a former kindergarten teacher who now works as a playroom consultant, also recommends building together with blocks or Duplo, which supports fine motor skill development.

Get up and go: If they’ve learned to walk, try activities like kicking a ball back and forth, which helps them develop new physical abilities but also offers other benefits. “They’re learning about taking turns and co-operation and early rules and negotiation,” says Positano. Gentle roughhousing (like flying them around like Superman) is a great way to bond with kids and work on relationship skills like consent. Or turn on some music and have a dance party in the living room.

Level up: Now’s also the time to help them extend their play so that it’s a bit more complex, which will help them stick with their activity for longer. For example, suggests Vlietstra, if you’re at the park and your child is playing with a car in the sandbox. You could show them how to make a road for the car by dragging your foot in the sand. This type of interaction helps kids become curious and engaged learners.

Embrace your mini-me: Toddlers love to imitate you—so let them. If you’re gardening, give them some digging tools. Or set up a play kitchen in your own kitchen, so that when you’re cooking, they can play alongside you, suggests Lynne Newman, an occupational therapist and a mom of two girls, ages seven and nine.

Play Picasso: Grab some chubby crayons and colored paper and trace their hands (and let them try to trace yours), then color them in together. Or let them create a masterpiece and tell you all about it. Any type of drawing or coloring will strengthen their hands and develop their fine motor skills. Finger painting is fun too!

How to play with a preschooler

Imagination station: Kids this age love dressing up in costumes, pretending to be fantastical creatures or taking on roles like teacher or astronaut. This type of play really needs a partner, and your kid will love seeing you take on a new persona. (Tip: When playing doctor, always choose to be the patient—you get to lie down!) You can also use blocks to build structures for stuffies, dolls or cars together.

School prep: Who can resist smooshing things like playdough and kinetic sand with your fingers? It’s a great way to work on fine motor skills, which will help your kid when they begin handwriting. And this is a simple way for parents to de-stress, too—you can zone out a bit as you sit and roll out snakes or make pretend food for each other.

Put them to work: Preschoolers crave feeling like a valued part of the family, says Vlietstra. Get them to help you with household tasks like matching socks or washcloths. Making a game of it—perhaps by having a race to see who can fold their pile the fastest—is a great way to both teach them how to be a helper and to have fun.

Get on their level: Kids can get really into the things they like at this age, notes Vlietstra. “Learning the language of what they’re interested in—like the names of Paw Patrol characters—gives you something to talk about.” Like all people, young kids want us to take an interest in their lives.

Ready to rumble: Don’t be afraid to ramp up the roughhousing with preschoolers. “Play wrestling is really good from a sensory perspective and also from a social and emotional perspective, because it helps them let go of bottled-up feelings,” says Newman.

Let them lead: In imaginative play, let your preschooler take charge. This shows them you value their idea—but if they get stuck or ask for suggestions on what to do, it’s not wrong to give them two or three options.

How to play with your school-aged kid

Play by the rules: “Now that kids are in a school setting, where they need to learn rules, they become more fascinated by games with rules,” Positano explains. Pull out the cards or board games, or engage in a physical game, like tag.

Loosen up: Because kids are in a structured environment for most of the day, either in school or in extracurricular activities, playing with them using open-ended toys like LEGO®, dollhouses/play sets @ Walmart or Playmobil, where you build imaginative worlds together, lets them be free to explore their creativity, says Positano. Adjeleian also recommends a “body break” where you dance around the kitchen together or play a 10-minute indoor soccer game.
Links to Build Your Own Small World

Game on!: If your kid is into video games, hanging out when they’re gaming, even for just a few minutes, still counts as playing as it gives you an opportunity to see what they’re doing, engage with them and show you care about what they enjoy. Vlietstra’s eldest is a Minecraft fan, so she’s taken the time to learn the basics of how the game works and chats with him about what he creates. “If he’s built an art museum in Minecraft, then it might be a moment for us to talk about art,” she says. You can also join in the fun.

Play hard: Try skating, tobogganing, basketball, tennis or any other physical activity you enjoy. Don’t feel the need to go easy on them: Kids this age actually thrive on competition, and activities with a lot of sensory input are a great way for kids to focus their energy and then feel very calm and content afterwards.

Share your passions: As kids grow up, you can also start to share your hobbies with them, like baking, knitting or fixing cars, says Huson. While it’s important to follow their lead when it comes to their interests when they’re younger, as they grow up, getting them to try something that’s not necessarily their thing, but important to someone they love, builds healthy relationship skills, like being generous and considerate. (Of course, if they end up hating it, don’t force them.)

Don’t overdo it: Unstructured time at this age is essential, notes Huson, so try to make space in your kids’ schedule for it. “As adults, we are so excited when we have a weekend where we don’t have to do anything. We want to give our kids as much of that time as possible,” she says.

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Loose Parts Play
Tips for Pretend Play
Tips For Tummy Time

Loose parts play - Tips for Pretend play and Tummy Time

10 Benefits of Loose Parts Play

Beyond fancy and expensive toys designed for specific purposes/functions, there are a whole lot of materials, easily obtained at little or no cost, that can widen the scope, as well as greatly enhance the quality, of children’s play (and learning) experiences; these are collectively called “loose parts.”

In other words, loose parts are materials that can be moved, combined, taken apart, redesigned, and used in more ways during play than one can imagine.

They can be natural (rocks, sticks, sand, shells, seeds, pebbles, feathers, water, leaves, flowers, grasses, bark), or man-made (straws, ropes, ribbons, chalk, wine corks, bubble wraps, crates, cartons, tires, and boxes).

Because loose parts play is open-ended and child-led as opposed to adult-led, it offers so much more possibilities and children tend to get highly involved in it.

There are so many benefits your child could derive from engaging in this sort of play, that we cannot possibly discuss all in this brief piece; so, the following are ten benefits we consider most significant.

Benefits of Loose Parts Play

1. Imagination and Creativity Boost

Since loose parts do not have a clearly defined purpose, and no one tells children what they are supposed to do with such when it’s play time, they are compelled to use their imagination, to see possibilities in these objects or materials, and to come up with creative ways to make the most use of them.

With the freedom to think and explore their own ideas when faced with loose parts, a child’s imagination is enhanced, and they become more creative as they try to find ways of using the same loose parts for many different purposes during play.

2. Greater Independence

Loose parts play helps to foster independence because it is child-led for the most part. With minimal input from parents, educators or caregivers, a child engaged in loose parts play has no choice but to think for themselves, set their own agenda, as well as define their own methods and objectives.

Faced with some sticks, stones and sand for instance, your child would have to decide what to build and how to go about building it – all by themselves. Having to constantly make such decisions and carry them out, then, helps to make your child more independent.

3. Better Problem Solving

Due to its open-ended nature, loose parts play tends to present many obstacles or challenges which a child has to overcome in order to achieve their play objectives.

For example, while engaged in loose parts play children usually have to devise ways of using the materials available – whether adequate or not – to achieve particular outcomes; they have to determine what objects are suitable for symbolizing some other objects; they also have to think of ways to prevent things from being too short, long, heavy, or unbalanced while designing structures for instance. Overcoming all these challenges sharpens their problem-solving skills.

4. Improved Concentration

Loose parts play can be very immersive because of the nearly unlimited possibilities for expression that it offers children. If you observe your child while they are practicing this kind of play you will notice that they exhibit a higher level of involvement than when they are taking part in activities led/directed by adults.

So, because loose parts play keeps a child engrossed, constant engagement in it is likely to result to a more developed ability to concentrate, and this could as well help the child excel while involved in other activities or carrying out certain tasks.

Benefits of Loose Parts Play

5. Language and Vocabulary Development

When children engage in loose parts play together there tends to be a lot of questioning, narration, negotiation, exchange of ideas, and so on, involved. A child will always want to ask a playmate what s/he is doing, and will also like to discuss what they themselves are doing. Newly-learned language is explored, and phrases are even made up in order to better describe things or share ideas.

The rich interchange of language resulting from good quality loose parts play will go a long way towards developing your child’s vocabulary, and improving their conversational skills.

6. Superior Emotional Development

While engaged in loose parts play children will usually take on varying roles at different points; using loose parts to represent their favorite characters, real or imagined, they will also act out a variety of dialogues and stories.

By doing these, children get to view the world through different perspectives; they gain a better understanding and appreciation of the world and people in general; they grow in confidence and self-assurance; they begin to realize their place in the world and what they are capable of; and they turn out to be more emotionally mature individuals.

7. Feelings of Satisfaction

Because playing with loose parts frequently requires them to think, solve problems, create and achieve, the end result for children is a feeling of excitement, accomplishment, and satisfaction.

Let’s say your child has spent quite a lot of time trying to build a tower with stones; and, despite the tower collapsing several times, they persisted and finally succeeded. Don’t you think they will get to experience the feelings of euphoria and fulfillment that accompany achievement? We most definitely think so.

8. Multiple Skills Acquisition

Due to its cross-curricular nature, loose parts play presents children with numerous opportunities to develop skills across several areas including science, math, and art, to mention but a few.

Your child could, for example, acquire artistic/design skills by making pictures with loose parts such as leaves, or creating shapes and models with play dough; they could develop their conversation skills through constant interaction with peers; and they could also develop their math skills by sorting, counting, and creating patterns using loose parts.

9. Improved Risk-Taking Ability

There is a slight level of risk associated with some forms of loose parts play, such as building structures with sticks and then walking on or climbing over them; therefore, children that frequently engage in such risky play usually become better at taking and managing risks in general.

It has been found that exposing children to controlled risks positively impacts their psychological and emotional development, among other benefits.

10. Enhanced Fine and Gross Motor Skills

Several different activities characterise loose parts play. When they are not fiddling with, sorting, positioning or balancing, children engaged in this kind of play will be picking up, transporting, constructing, and maneuvering/manipulating a variety of objects.

All these involve different physical movements which help to speed up the development of gross and fine motor skills in children.

Evidently, loose parts play can positively impact your child in many different ways.

Just bear in mind that while this type of play is mostly child-led, you, as a parent, have important and intentional roles to play, especially when your child engages in this kind of play at home.

You could help them source the loose parts they need, encourage them when they are facing obstacles, and applaud them when they achieve something; you could also supervise and provide a bit of guidance when/where necessary just to ensure they play safely and reap the loosest parts play benefits.

Tips for Tummy Time

By Fisher Price
As a new parent, you’ve probably had a lot of new terms thrown your way. One you might have heard of but may not know a lot about is tummy time. What is it? Why is it important? And what time is it, exactly? You asked, and we’ve got answers, tips, and a few recommendations for making tummy time great.

What is tummy time?

The name says it all; play time where your baby lays and plays on their stomach, instead of laying on their back. Why make the flip? Think of this play position as your baby’s first work out. Tummy time helps them build upper body strength, work on their head control, and practice their balance and coordination skills. In general, babies who spend more time on their tummies are able to roll, pull themselves up, crawl, and begin walking earlier than babies who are mostly placed on their backs. Although tummy time is great for your baby, it may not be their favorite activity in the world. Your baby might find laying on their back comfier and more familiar, but never fear. With a little practice and some fun toys and gear, your baby can learn to love tummy time.

Mom and baby playing on the floor

Tackle it together

It’s important to stay close by while your baby is playing on their tummy. Younger babies especially may only be able to keep their head up for a short time and will need your support. Plus, this is a great way for you and your baby to bond and play together, all while helping those little muscles grow.

Bring in some back up

Getting your baby to enjoy tummy time is all about keeping them engaged, comfy, and happy. With the help of some tummy-time essentials, from wedges to gym mats to mirrors, you can tackle tummy time like a pro.

Baby laying on Grow-with-Me Tummy Time Llama

Grow-with-Me Tummy Time Llama

Meet your tummy time partner in crime. Yes, he is a smiling Llama with a mouthful of leaves, and you’re going to love him. A wedge toy like this Llama helps your baby keep their head up and work on their stability, so they won’t just roll over to their back again.

Your baby has a whole different vantage point from their new position, so placing fun things in their line of sight for them to look at or reach for is a great way to keep them engaged. The Tummy Time Llama has a few toys you can try:

  • Fun, non-breakable mirror- Your baby will love looking at their reflection and making funny faces.

  • Teether- Great to reach for, better to chew. The teether adds some sensory benefits to playtime.

  • Rattle- When your baby grabs for the rattle, they’ll be rewarded with fun sounds that help stimulate their auditory senses.

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baby laying on tummy wedge

Hug & Play Tummy Wedge

A tummy wedge with a crescent shape “hugs” your baby as they play, helping them stay on their tummies without wobbling. In this supportive spot, your baby can work on pushing themself up and working out their muscles. Attach toys onto the wedge so your baby has fun textures and sounds close by to explore, and let them hug it out.

A tummy wedge with a crescent shape “hugs” your baby as they play, helping them stay on their tummies without wobbling. In this supportive spot, your baby can work on pushing themself up and working out their muscles. Attach toys onto the wedge so your baby has fun textures and sounds close by to explore, and let them hug it out.

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baby laying on giraffe tummy wedge

Go Wild Gym & Giraffe Wedge

The best way for your baby to get their bearings on their tummy is with a firm, flat surface. A gym mat on the floor is a great place to start. The soft, flat surface physically supports your baby and keeps them comfortable as they wiggle and move. Meanwhile, the Giraffe wedge helps give your baby the extra support they need to lift their heads up and strengthen their neck and core muscles. Plus, the super cute animal toys help keep your baby entertained and make an awesome tummy-time moral support team.

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baby laying on floor with teether

Rattles & Teethers

Place colorful toys around your baby as they lay on their stomach to encourage them to reach. Reaching helps them strengthen the muscles they need to eventually start rolling over. Teethers, clackers, and rattles, are perfect to encourage your baby to reach and grab. Plus, the different sounds and feels of the toys have added sensory benefits.

Here are a few you can try:

baby laying on the Deluxe Kick & Play Piano Gym

Kick & Play™ Piano Gym

Nothing like some tunes to encourage your baby to wiggle, move, and work out those muscles. Try tummy time on a musical gym like the Kick & Play™ Piano Gym. Just hook some toys onto the mat, flip your baby over, and let them play. With their hands (and feet) busy, they’ll rock their tummy time session.

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Timing is key

Try giving tummy time a test run when your baby is calm, comfy, and ready to try something new. Some great times to add tummy time to the routine are:

  • After a nap

  • After bath time

  • After a fresh diaper change

A not so great time? Right after a meal. Laying on their tummy could interrupt your baby’s digestion and lead to some extra gas or spit up – steer clear!

Mom laying on floor with baby laying on top

Practice makes perfect

Holding their head up, looking around, and pushing up on their hands are all new skills for your baby, and just like any new skill, the more they do it the better they’ll get. Start off small and try to carve out time every day for your baby to practice.

0-3 Months:

  • Start with laying them on your chest for a few minutes at a time.

  • Be sure to support their neck the whole time.

3-6 Months:

  • Try to engage in tummy time 2-3 times a day, for a few minutes at a time.

  • Gradually increase the length of tummy time as your baby grows and their neck and shoulder muscles strengthen.

6+ Months

  • By the time your baby is 5-6 months old, they may be able to spend up to an hour of playtime on their tummies.

  • Be sure you have plenty of room for play. At this stage, your baby might even be trying to push up or roll.

Tummy time can be tricky, but with time, practice, and a few fun friends for support, your baby will be a tummy-time champ before you know it!

Tips for Pretend Play

Here are my five best tips for making pretend play a huge success for your toddler. Think of how you liked to play as a child, how you wanted someone to play with you when you select props and toys. For instance, they won't make you pretend your a pig in the mud, if they don't have farm related pretend toys.

1. Use child sized dramatic play kits.

You've got to check out these 5 tips for pretend play with toddlers! You'll love these dramatic play tips!

Since I buy the toys, I got to carefully choose the sets. So I bought props and kits that helped me get into pretend play.

One crucial component of pretend play is having child sized items to bring the play to life. If an item is too big (or too small) it can be awkward for the child to manage, maneuver, or take ownership of. Look for items and pretend play kits that are made for children, particularly for toddlers.

You've got to check out these 5 tips for pretend play with toddlers! You'll love these dramatic play tips!

This Soft & Safe Doctor’s Kit is full of perfectly sized pieces of “medical equipment” for Dr. Kate to check up on her patients (or herself). Kits like these are just the right size for little hands and make dramatic play accessible to young toddlers.

2. Mix items from the real world with pretend items

You've got to check out these 5 tips for pretend play with toddlers! You'll love these dramatic play tips!

When setting up a pretend play scene for your toddler, it can be great to add in items from the “real world” to add to the set up. My toddlers have a new sibling on the way so the Cuddle & Carry Baby Doll is the perfect centerpiece to playing Mom and Dad.

You've got to check out these 5 tips for pretend play with toddlers! You'll love these dramatic play tips!

To make this “Parenting Pretend Play” space for them, I added in a few real baby care items for them to practice with. This sets them up for success as siblings and gives them the chance to imagine life with a newborn.

You've got to check out these 5 tips for pretend play with toddlers! You'll love these dramatic play tips!

They love playing with this baby doll and caring for it like their new sibling. Feeding, changing, rocking and putting her to bed in her carrier are huge hits right now.

3. Find age appropriate dramatic play activities

You've got to check out these 5 tips for pretend play with toddlers! You'll love these dramatic play tips!

Making sure toys are age appropriate is HUGE with pretend play. Since this is a growing skill in toddlers, having developmentally appropriate pretend play options is crucial.

You've got to check out these 5 tips for pretend play with toddlers! You'll love these dramatic play tips!

My three year old is just the right age for this Pretend & Play Post Office and absolutely loves playing mail man. It’s totally in his wheel house with loads of grow room – which I love.

You've got to check out these 5 tips for pretend play with toddlers! You'll love these dramatic play tips!

Having toys toddlers can play with and can grow with is huge in pretend play and gives the activity years of life.

4. Focus on pretend play ideas your kids are interested in

It’s easy to get excited when thinking about pretend play options for toddlers. But slow down and take a second to think about your child. Is this something they are interested in? Is this pretend play set up something they have background knowledge about and can create / imagine with?

Example: our family doesn’t have a pet so a vet pretend play set up isn’t appropriate yet for my young toddlers. Will it someday? Of course! But right now, I think their best imaginative play comes from their life experiences and what they can relate to.

5. Join in on the pretend play fun!

You've got to check out these 5 tips for pretend play with toddlers! You'll love these dramatic play tips!

Don’t forget to get in on the pretend play action! Being a part of their imaginative play is so important. Have a check up, change a “poopy diaper”, send some mail through the toddler post office – interacting with their play is huge.

You've got to check out these 5 tips for pretend play with toddlers! You'll love these dramatic play tips!

Pretend play opportunities are so important for toddler development

The three toys I mentioned in this post were generously sent to us by Lakeshore. We love Lakeshore products because they are well made, teacher designed, and kid tested. Not only are they fun, but they are educational too! By Susie from Happy Toddler

The Importance of Pretend Play for Your Child

Far from being simply a reason to dress up or play games, role play has become recognized by educators as being significant among the recommended tools to use in fostering a child’s development in school. Role play is a fun, creative activity for the child, which comes naturally to them. It’s a part of every child’s play routine, whether the child is in the classroom under a teachers’ supervision or at home with their friends and siblings.

Educators have found that it easily and naturally encourages a child’s development in everything from social skills to problem solving skills. It opens a child’s eyes to the possibilities that are out there. As Albert Einstein famously said, “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.”

Encouraging a child to think imaginatively and creatively beginning with their experience in kindergarten, instils in them the idea that there are other perspectives than their own. Once they begin exploring these other perspectives and looking at the world as others might see it, they become much more aware of how others in the world think and feel.

They are able to discover on their own not just the concept of right and wrong, but the reasons why something is right or wrong as well. They are able to logically make a connection between what they have been taught and the reasons behind it by taking another’s perspective in considering the rules of society.

Emotional and Social Development

Compassion, charitability and empathy are developed through the use of role play. By assuming the role of another, whether fictional or real, they begin to think abstractly. They learn the concepts of collaboration and cooperation in getting along with others for the mutual benefit of everyone.

They also begin to explore how they feel about interacting with others in different socials situations. This is a way to alleviate their fears about what others think about them as they can look at themselves and their actions through another’s eyes and decide whether or not they are behaving correctly in the given situation.

It can build self-confidence in a child who is shy around others. It can also cause a child to recognise that there are certain, invisible boundaries of behaviour that they must recognise in order to get along with others and still be happy with their interactions.

Communication and Language Skills

In discovering that a polite and positive environment can only be achieved through civil discussion and negotiation, the child will naturally broaden their communication skills. Listening to how others explain what they’re thinking and feeling and realising that they feel the same way encourages them to use the same language.

Understanding what is being said is the key to developing language skills. In the child’s mind, “If it worked for them, it must work for me as well.” They begin to pick up words and phrases they’ve heard others use to express what they’re feeling, thereby expanding their vocabulary.

They also begin to understand the meaning of context, and how what you say in a given social situation determines your level of success getting your point across.

Thinking and Problem-solving

In creating games within a role-playing situation, it’s up to those participating to create the scenario, their roles in the scenario and the rules which everyone must follow in reaching a satisfactory conclusion for everyone.

This requires cognitive thinking in making the right decisions in moving the game along. The cognitive process involves the use of logic and problem-solving skills. It also involves explaining this logic clearly to others so they can get onboard and work together on solving the problem.

The success of the logical process can encourage the child to apply the same process to other facets of their life. With an ever-growing number of successful conclusions, they learn a needed skill that will serve them well for the rest of their life.

Creative Development Through Imagination

In the business world, having the ability to think “outside the box” is seen as an enviable asset. But the reason many adults see this as a valued rarity is simply because they have forgotten how to use the power of imagination and creativity in their everyday lives.

By encouraging role play as an ongoing facet of a child’s education, teachers and educators are realising that they can foster a generation of “outside the box” thinkers and raise society as a whole to a new level of understanding that benefits everyone.