“How does Reid like his new present?”
“He loves it!”
“What does he love most about it?”
“Er… he’s still kind of playing with the box…”
How many times have you heard that children are more obsessed with the packaging than an actual toy? Before I became a parent, I marveled at how a child could give up a shiny, new toy in favour of a dingy old cardboard box. However, after repeatedly witnessing this phenomena in action, I can now vouch that exploration and discovery begins with the outer shell.
|GET OUT OF THE BOX REID|
|OK SERIOUSLY YOU’RE CUTE BUT GET OUT|
|ONLY 12 MINUTES LATER…|
|TIME TO GO CHECK OUT THE ACTUAL TOY|
Cardboard boxes are the ultimate blank slate for children; a box can morph into a number of objects only limited by the child’s imagination. In fact, a large banker’s box recently turned from a car to a fort to a garbage can – yes, Ryder found it amusing to sit in a pretend trash can – all within a matter of moments.
So why is “pretend play” so darned important? According to Dr. Kathleen Alfano, a widely-regarded expert in early childhood development, “Pretend Play is more than fun – it helps develop thinking and problem-solving skills and strengthens social and communication skills, as well. It lets your child ‘try on’ endless new roles and new ways of looking at the world, which helps build empathy and imagination.”
Dr. Alfano’s Tips to promote “Pretend play”:
Provide a collection of dress-up props for role-play
Plant seeds for imaginative thinking by reading lots of books together
Provide toys that encourage creativity and imagination
Make up stories with your child, building on each other’s additions
Arrange play dates with others to foster social and imaginative play
Listen to music with your child and act out how it sounds (sleepy, happy)
Take turns “being” things that begin with each letter of the alphabet
Sometimes be your child’s play partner, sometimes just observe
Use your own imagination and awaken your own inner child
Ryder and I love to make up stories. Sometimes I’ll let him take the lead; I’ll put a few of his favourite toys in front of him and let him create a scenario – at the moment, a recurring theme is taking mommy’s car to the grocery store to buy Ryder grapes. And it’s absolutely amazing to see how he incorporates making sure Reid comes home for a nap; how daddy must remember his money; even how mommy needs to make a list. At times he’ll sling a pail over his shoulder, calling it his “purse”, and he never forgets to grab a old set of keys that he keeps handy. In short, he takes mundane activities from our everyday life and weaves a brilliant tale that is funny, creative and always entertaining. This is the power of pretend play.
Does your child have a vivid imagination? What are some of the ways he/she engages in pretend play?