Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Play House - Build a Home

Should boys play with dolls? Should girls play with trucks? I was surprised how much has been written about this topic. I consider Pretend Play as PLAY – or a child’s work. Some kindergarten classrooms no longer have the “Drama” center. True, there may be plenty of drama abounding without a center encouraging more. But are the children missing out on important benefits of Imaginary Play? What are the benefits? Just that – children using their imaginations!

Children are learning important social, cognitive and emotional skills during Imaginary, Pretend or Fantasy Play. This open-ended play:
  • Promotes Social Skills: Children are imitating their parents when they play “house” and are learning how to treat each other. Children playing school may be the future teachers, counselors, principals. Children storytelling may become the next J. K. Rowling. Little Princesses are building self-confidence as they rule over others.
  • Develops Language and Cognitive Skills: I have witnessed many children talking, communicating, sharing, listening and bonding while engaging in pretend play. Much negotiation must occur between children sharing toys, deciding who plays whom, taking turns, listening to others, or deciding who's the boss or ruler of the kingdom or home.
  • Increases Intellect: Imaginative play is the foundation of abstract thought and symbolic thinking which helps children understand letters, numbers, sounds, and words.
  • Supports Emotional Development and Builds Self-Confidence: Pretend play builds friendships, self-confidence, and a sense of belonging. Because a young child is not able to control much in his/her day-to-day life, taking on an adult role can be very empowering. When children develop confidence in their abilities, they will be more determined and persistent when introduced to new skills.
  •  Modeling or Role Playing allows children to explore their feelings and gain a sense of control. Playing doctor, nurse, or vet can help a child develop empathy. Children can  feel free to explore the more confusing feelings they experience such as jealousy, anger or frustration. In fact, play therapy encourages children to express their problems through play.
  • Teaches Self-Control: Lev Vygotsky, a Russian psychologist,  maintained that "…at 4 or 5, a child’s ability to play creatively with other children was in fact a better gauge of her future academic success than any other indicator, including her vocabulary, her counting skills or her knowledge of the alphabet." Vygotsky believed that dramatic play was the training ground where children learned to regulate themselves and to conquer their own unruly minds. When children follow the rules of make-believe and push one another to follow those rules, they develop important habits of self-control. In other words: Children can learn SELF-CONTROL and to THINK while participating in pretend play!

Listening to a child's phone conversation gives you insight into what they are thinking - or what they hear you say!

Allowing children to be creative contributes to novel thoughts, problem-solving skills and entrepreneurs. The highest achievers in societies were encouraged, or at least allowed, to think outside the box. If they weren’t, they stole the time to do it anyway, becoming great artists, writers and scientists. The next time you have the impulse to correct a child's art or stop their pretend play for flashcards, think of Mark Zackerberg (Facebook), Bill Gates (Microsoft), Steve Jobs (Apple Computers), Jeff Bezos ( or Stephen Spielberg (movie producer).
So is it all right for boys to play with dolls? I think so. Divorce rates are complicated to report due to multiple marriages but between 40% and 60% of new marriages will eventually end in divorce in the U.S. And births to unwed mothers have risen to about 41 percent today or 4 out of 10 children are born to unmarried women. The majority of children living with one parent lives with their single mother. Therefore, it is easy for me to conclude that Playing House is needed to Build a Home. Call me old fashion, but I believe children, and our society, need strong family bonds and support.
Need more inexpensive ideas, activities, and games on how children learn through play? See my new book, co-written with Mommy with Selective Memory titled The Happy Mommy Handbook: The Ultimate How-to Guide on Keeping Your Toddlers and Preschoolers Busy, Out of Trouble and Motivated to Learn or for a glimpse into Kindergarten, click my other book. oth have been number 1 bestsellers on Amazon. Also available on Barnes & Noble and Kobo. 

I assure you that the joy, love, and fulfillment experienced
in loving, righteous families produce the greatest possible
happiness we can achieve. That happiness is the foundation
for a successful society.
~ Quentin L.Cook 

What are your favorite memories of imaginative play? 


  1. My favorite memories as a child were those spent in the in the imaginative play area in kindergarten. I would take what I did there over to the "reading" area where there was a felt board and tell stories about what I had played with in the "house" department. I know that my son with developmental delays has bloomed at his preschool due in part to the imaginative play he participated there. He is on the Autism Spectrum and I have been struggling on how to do imaginative play here at home and this has given me some great ideas. Thanks

    1. Genevieve - thank you so much for visiting and sharing your insight on how imaginative play helps children with special needs. My daughter also has special needs and I heartily agree children need more time to learn through imaginative play. I'll have some more ideas on this in the future. Glad you stopped by.

  2. Imaginative play is great for boys and girls. We are big fans

  3. My three are masters of imaginary play, it is one of the play forms I don't have to encourage. Sitting down with drawing I do! They make up stories, roles and scenarios and love kitchen play, going to the shops, and pirates!

    Great fun.

    Thanks for sharing on Family Frolics!

  4. What a great pretzel house! We love to pretend at our house!

  5. Great way to play! It develops our children in ways we probably don't even know. Thanks for linking up at Mom's Library! Hope to see you back this week.

    1. Tulip - I sure will link up when I finish my next readathon post. Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Thanks Susan for this post! I know my children loved to play dress up {yes, my son was known to sport a pink tutu back in the day!} role reversals are not harmful in my opinion as some think. I loved watching them play as young ones and see how far they could stretch their imagination!

    1. Thank you Kimberly. Yes, it is all about using their imagination - stretching is a great word for it. Thank you for visiting.


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