Let’s pretend! Oh how I love to hear the grandkids say this. I still remember playing when I was very young, using bricks as houses, little sticks as people, and stones as cars. When we were a little older my sisters and I would go down to the creek and make believe we were indians and gathered leaves for pretend food and caught wild horses.
Our kids played pretend too. They played horses and army and dug tunnels to visit friends far away. One of the things they did was to would get inside an old cable spool and pretend it was their submarine!
So it is so much fun to see the grandkids continue on with their make believe world. But pretending isn’t all fun and games as one might think. It is actually important for their developing brains. Their imaginative play is helping them to learn to solve problems, cooperate and think flexibly. They are learning about their likes and dislikes and their abilities. It helps them to make sense of their experiences. It is also a way to express their feelings and explore scary times, like going to the doctor.
There are lots of ways to help kids have imaginative play. The most important thing you can do is make free time. So much time is taken up with scheduled activities and technology. Some children have no time for this important type of play. When they finally do have unscheduled time, they aren’t used to it and give up and say they are bored. So if your kids (or grandkids) are engaged in pretending, don’t rush them onto the next thing. Maybe instead you should join in and say “Let’s Pretend!”