What is Pretend Play and Using It to Boost Intelligence in Children
By Andrew Loh
One of the often used technical words in parenting is “pretend play.”
Although, there are many definitions to it, the most common and aptly
fitting definition for pretend play is “including any conventional and
imaginative play” in the lives of children. Pretend play is essentially
linked to language, math, and narration, abstract thought, solving
problems, catering to sequential thought, story creation within the
mind, social skills, emotional and cognitive skills and assuming the
larger role of a player within a group. Young children have their own
way of learning by doing and imagining things. The entire process of
pretending play helps children in learning many essential life skills.
Learning social and emotional skills
Pretend play helps children in learning how to perform experimentation with social and
emotional roles of life. Pretend play also involves learning how to
cooperate with team members. Cooperation means living peacefully with
others, sharing responsibility, avoiding conflicts, and problem solving.
When children indulge in pretend play, they usually assume the role of
diverse characters. In other words, they would be assuming someone
else's role to perform certain tasks which eventually assist them in
learning how others behave and act. This would help them in mastering
the skills of showing empathy. Empathy means learning how others feel
and how we respond to other people's pain and anguish. Pretend play also
helps children in mastering the art self control and managing emotions.
Another advantage is building self-esteem.
Mastering language skills
While pretend playing, children are more likely to utter
some words and phrases whose meanings are only known to them and their
friends. These words are the building blocks for learning language
skills. Pretend play also involves mimicking parents, relatives,
teachers, peers and others who play an important role in children's
daily life. Children also learn in what manner they can use certain
words and phrases to give a broader meaning to the context of the play.
Spoken and written language is entirely different and pretend play may
help children understand the difference between both of these words.
When a connection is established, children would also learn how to read
Developing thinking skills
Life is full of unknown problems. A person who learns how to solve them will emerge as
the ultimate winner. Pretend play helps children solve diverse range of
problems that they might face in the future. Problem solving is an
important cognitive skill and children may streamline their cognition by
pretend playing with others or alone. Pretend play is not just “simple
play and enjoy activities.” It needs highly advanced and sequential
thinking skills like devising new strategies, establishing
communication, and developing ability to expressing self. With pretend
play, children also learn how to negotiate difficult situations, work on
different perspectives, streaming thoughts, develop an action plan to
put those thoughts into action, work on given tasks and achieve the
desired goal or task.
Brain development skills
Early brain development is an important aspect of a child's life and pretend play
may help children in building most essential brain developing skills. As
they put their brain in to more use, additional cells are generated and
newer brain pathways are created. Pretend play makes brain very active
and an active brain always become agile brain that is extremely smart
Synthesis of knowledge and similar skills
Learning does not happen under a situation that is sedentary and dull.
Children need help in finding some opportunities to mix and blend their
skills and knowledge in a seamless manner. Pretend play is a perfect
example of this approach. For example, children pretend playing the role
of a teacher in classroom would involve actual teaching by using the
most appropriate words, managing time, controlling student behavior,
managing their emotions, speaking to them as they write on a black
board, connecting with imaginary students and to help them learn
lessons. This exercise involves making connections with different
aspects if daily life and to manage situations that are different and
Pretend play comes naturally to all children.
However, some of them may not use it because of missed opportunities.
Pretend play could be developed with parents' active help and
cooperation. Some pretend play activities need things and materials.
Parents may like to supply them to their children so that they will
involve themselves for at least 30 minutes in a day. Just imagine when
children pretend play the role of a teacher by wearing the actual dress
that is donned by the teacher! Watch how children pretend play the role
of a doctor and patient. Pretend play is an essential part of a child's
life. The more child uses it the more would he or she becomes smarter in life.
Some ideas and Activities on pretend play here.