Educational Toys and Pretend Play

Pretend play is a very important to healthy childhood development. It is known to researchers as “Sociodramatic Play” or “Imaginative Play”. It is a type of free play in which children engage in creative and imaginative social interactions. Pretend play has been shown to effectively promote the development of social, emotional, physical, and cognitive skills in children especially with autistic children.

Parents, teachers and or caregivers should create opportunities for children which allow their imagination to be released by…

  • Providing an environment that permits a child to explore every possibility without undue restraints
  • Let children express their ideas rather than imposing adult ideas upon them
  • Set up real life situations for solving problems
  • Allow a child the time to explore original ideas rather than what is popular
  • Help them work through the process of solving problems

Pretend play is the place where children carry out action plans, take on roles, and transform objects as they express their ideas and feelings about the world around them. Pretend play challenges children to see new solutions to life problems. In a sense it is “Child Brainstorming”, that is, spontaneous ideas and or solutions to solve problems. Researchers in the field of early childhood development have stated, children that do not play and use their imagination regularly when they are young may grow into anxious, socially maladjusted adults because problem solving can become a difficult task.

Educational toys provide support in the development of social, emotional, physical, and cognitive skills in children because many are designed to stimulate pretend play. They also provide a bridge for a child’s interaction with parents or caregiver. According to an article by the “American Academy of Pediatrics” when adults participate in the play of children, learning is enhanced. Parents are able to observe the skills their child currently has and also help expand those skills.

When choosing educational toys that promote pretend play look for toys that reflect real life situations, such as a kitchen set, rocket ships, various vehicles such as fire trucks, automobiles, airplanes, also action figures and various playhouses. Also be sure to check that the toys are safe and the right size for your child. Check their quality and durability so that they will stand up to heavy use because you don’t want to restrict play in order to preserve a fragile toy. Then think about how it fits in his/her general interests. Most important, make pretend play an event for both you and your child.

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