Have you ever wondered why your daughter is in a hurry to set up a pretend classroom after she spent the whole day in school? What about your son who takes all the throw blankets off the couch and strategically places them over the dining room table? Did you notice the kids next door running through the yard with silly hats on their heads and flapping their arms?
Does this bring back any memories of your childhood? Playing pretend is something we all learned to do at an early age, and to help with their cognitive development, it’s just as important to let your kids play pretend and join in.
The Meaning of Cognitive Development
An easy way to understand the meaning of cognitive development is simply the process of learning to think and understand. In other words, when children play pretend they are learning to process information with their brain through perception, critical thinking, and language.
It’s important to let your daughter play school and set up a desk at the computer table. Maybe she wants to share story time with her stuffed animal “students.” She’s only putting into practice what she’s observing on a daily basis.
It’s really okay for your son to spread those throw blankets on your table so that he can hide inside with his favorite stuffed animal and pillow. You could add to the fun by offering to build a pretend campfire with things laying around the house.
Oh, and don’t worry about the neighbor kids. They probably have some sort of super power in those silly hats that will have them flying in no time!
Now that you realize the importance of playing pretend, let’s talk about some of the ways you can make pretend time fun.
Making Pretend Time Fun
Make a pretend grocery store by taking some food items from your pantry and placing them on a table. Allow your little one to put the items into categories just like the real grocery store does. Cut out strips of colorful construction paper for price tags and get some bags to put the “bought” food into.
Using a large piece of cardboard, make a pretend stage in the middle of the room and put on a fashion show with your kiddos. Or use the stage to hold a talent show. Use a brush or kitchen utensil for a microphone.
Make a clubhouse out of a big cardboard box. Help your munchkins draw designs on the outside of the box, and you can even cut out windows and a door. Give them some old towels to make curtains. Use a smaller box to create a table for the inside.
Provide them with an imagination box that includes things like old clothes and shoes for dress up, markers and crayons with large pieces of paper to draw on, and throw some aluminum foil in for making a ball or space helmet. Include any other household items that you can find.
Spending time playing pretends is healthy. It can help your child become a stronger critical thinker. It strengthens the parent-child relationship, and it can start training your child to make good choices.