This is an exciting and very important area of a child’s well being, not just with scenarios imagined, as a child can often be happy playing with an imaginary friend, or toy. These wonderful games can often include members of the family being asked to join in; therefore
it’s vital to do so, as the child will benefit from interactive play with all age groups. Everyone has heard of ‘Let’s pretend’, games, which are timeless. They beat most toys in play as the child is using their imagination to the full.
Within this extraordinary area of play, the child is learning reflexes and movement control. They will also be developing motor skills and increasing flexibility and balancing skills.
‘Lets’ pretend’ play times are also fun for adults as many scenarios can be acted out by the child. They can often include pretend meals, where you are invited to sample the food, or more bizarrely a visit to the doctors as you have an injury and have to rest, so the child creates an imaginary doctor’s surgery and recovery program. It’s all part of a learning process and great fun for all.
A parent’s experiences of role play
Role play is fascinating and every parent will have a story to tell whether silly, outrageous or pure fun. Dolls often become versions of the child’s self, and are a safe way for children to express new ideas and feelings. Through these role plays, children become more comfortable and prepared for life events in their own natural way. Use stories and invite your children to recreate a favourite story or take it further and ask them to add their own little tale. During your pretend game, prompt their ideas by asking questions such as: ‘So, what do you think happened next?’ or “What if the poor lost dog didn’t find his way home from the wood?” The child will quickly add thoughts and everyone will enjoy the story, which will usually have a happy ending.
Imagination running wild
Stories have been heard of the adult or another child being the patient and having a test for some illness and maybe a wooden spoon or similar is the pretend stethoscope. Then perhaps they or other children may be asked to be the teacher, or the shop assistant. One very amusing tale encountered was in a child’s playroom where Ellie the elephant was having an operation so Clare couldn’t come for tea until he was recovered which would be a while! Such is the imagination of a child. It’s fun for adults to join in role play and become a child for a time; it’s a therapy in itself.
In memory of Frog, an imaginary childhood friend
Many children have an imaginary friend; that someone, or something that’s totally unique to the child’s thoughts, and Frog belonged to Clare. He was imagined from nowhere when she was around three years old, and immediately took centre stage. In fact, the two were quite inseparable and for those who are familiar with imaginary friends, you have to go with the flow as they are very ‘real’ in the child’s mind.
Ellie elephant, the special number one play toy, and frog, were always on the play scene and always at bedtimes. They were best pals, however, the frog once ‘accidentally fell in the bath,’ and nearly drowned, and was given a good telling off by Clare, so much so that at future bath times he was told to sit on the floor and wait. Ellie was ordered to sit with Frog, to keep him in order, and so the imaginary tales went on.
Although everyone was usually on their best behaviour, the two favourites often fell out or misbehaved. In the kid’s play area of the kitchen, Frog and Ellie behaved so badly one morning that Clare shouted at the top of her voice and threw them both in the garden telling them ‘to behave, or else!’ Ellie was often noisy on car journeys so he and Frog were firmly put in their place, ‘Or they wouldn’t be allowed on future holidays’. Frog even had his ‘teeth checked’ at the dentist on one occasion. Thankfully the friendly dental surgeon just went with the flow, and Clare went on to mention that the frog was always very good in, ‘brushing his teeth.
Frog is long remembered for his antics, and all wittingly told through a story book called, ‘My friend frog’, written by the child’s mother.
Benefits in all imaginative development and understanding
All children love to imagine they’re something they’re not, whether its being a king, a warrior, a princess, whatever; kids have the ability to create scenarios. Imaginative development contributes to all social skills and problem solving. In turn they are exercising their creative abilities to the fullest.
Along with communication skills, imaginative play is much more than just another aspect of playtime. All skills learned will aid the child in later life, and how they interact with others, and all of this is essential to lifelong success and happiness.