No, I am not saying Electronic Toys and TV is bad for your child! I’m saying there needs to be a BALANCE. During the early childhood years ALL SKILLS need to be given the opportunity to be stimulated and developed.Your child also needs downtime, just like you do – time to just BE and let his Imagination take over. Having time that is not filled with some form of entertainment will stimulate your child’s creative side and encourage Imaginative Play also referred to as Make-believe Play or Pretend Play.
A Word of Caution
A child who is continually entertained is a child who will grow up always needing to be entertained by some external source. This child will grow into an adult who will need constant entertainment and stimulation from someone or something else.
Why is Make-Believe Play important?
Make-believe play is more than just an enjoyable form of self-entertainment. It lays the foundation of developing a capacity for thinking broader about what else can be possible apart from what is in front of him. The ability to transform settings or objects into possible alternatives or even impossibilities is important for developing a child’s creative side and the development of problem solving skills.
Early opportunities for make-believe play are crucial in stimulating Imaginative thought. The better a child’s Imaginative thought processes the better his ability to Problem Solve.
Ideas on How Parents or care-givers can encourage Imaginative or Make-believe play.
- Schedule time for Make-believe play. First, I would suggest you turn off the TV and put aside the battery operated and electronic toys for this period of time. TV can be used during your scheduled activities to broaden your child’s knowledge base about e.g. New worlds to travel to, New animals not yet encountered, different cultures all over the world etc. Used as a learning tool, TV can be a wonderful asset. Read more in my article “5 Ways to use your TV as a Learning Tool“
- Parents can encourage make-believe play by making toys available that stimulate imaginative play. Very young children needs more realistic toys that represent common objects in the home- dolls, kitchen utensils, pots pans, strollers, cars etc. As their thinking develops they are able to use less realistic objects in play e.g. building blocks, clay, pipe cleaners, empty boxes etc.
- If you participate in your child’s Make-believe playtime you should always follow your child’s lead and discover for yourself HOW your child’s Imaginative mind works.
- Take out blankets and make a fort in the living room.
- Draw on blank paper instead of coloring books.
- Give your child some empty boxes to play with and see how his imagination comes alive.
- Make a treasure chest with old clothes, hats, shoes, teacups, pots etc.
- Have a tea party with all the stuffed animals and dolls or go on a safari with all the jungle animals. Pretend to be animals.
- Create a grocery store with empty containers like cereal boxes, plastic fruit etc. and pretend with your child to be the cashier or customer.
- Go outside and explore. Act silly and let your child invite you into his pretend world.
There is an old saying – Too much of a Good thing is well, Not Good! I would like to promote BALANCE. Create a daily or weekly playtime schedule that includes all the different developmental skills, but leave just as much downtime for your child to have the freedom and space to just BE , IMAGINE and PRETEND!
Read more about How you can help your child boost his Problem Solving Skills in my next Article .Sign up below to receive it in your Inbox the moment it’s published.
Article by Delana Coetzee