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Raising Creative Kids

Children naturally love to pretend and imagine. Unfortunately, many people view this as wasted time or valueless play. Nothing could be further from the truth. Imaginative play is a natural springboard to teach your child how to think critically and solve problems, among many other skills.

Pretend play has many positive benefits for children. As they pretend, they learn about themselves and the world in which they live. Playing doctor, making dinner in a pretend kitchen, and acting out different “grown up” scenarios all help them build necessary communication skills and learn to problem solve on-the-go. They also develop higher order thinking skills and learn to get along and work with others. Not to mention, multiple studies conducted over the past decade also show that pretend play is a critical component to developing strong language skills. All of this, just through pretend play!

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Facilitate Imaginative Play

Parents, teachers, and caregivers can facilitate this important type of play in many different ways. Here are just a few ideas to get your child playing:

  • Listen & tell fun, exciting stories
  • Read good books
  • Keep plenty of play props on hand: play kitchen/food, dress up clothes, dolls, puppets, etc.
  • Provide access to various art supplies
  • Give them a variety of blocks, trucks, plastic animals/people
  • Access to water table, sand table, and other sensory materials
  • Limit their TV, computer, internet and general “screentime”
  • Allow for plenty of outdoor time
  • Talk to your children about real world situations
  • Take them on field trips around their community – the grocery store, post office, library, park, and zoo are all pathways towards imaginative play

These are but a few ways to help your child boost their pretend play. Limited budget? No problem. Get creative and use what materials you have around the house. An old cardboard box can provide hours of imaginary play. A bed sheet thrown over the couch becomes a tent or a secret tunnel! A few coins and an old purse can become hours of playing store in mom’s kitchen. And don’t forget, secondhand stores and garage sales are a great way to purchase pretend play toys and items on a budget.

All the emotional, social, and educational benefits aside, allowing our children to have plenty of time for make-believe is one more way we can encourage our kids to “just be kids.” It extends the enjoyment of a happy childhood. Let’s not rush them to grow up too quickly. Pretend play is a fun way to make memories alongside your children, too. Take some time to stop what you’re doing and engage in pretend play with them. It will do everyone a world of good.

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One comment

  1. Not to mention it saves me from guilt for not buying the latest educational supplies.

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