Los Angeles parents often ask us for advice when choosing a toddler or preschool program for their young children. Although we do not adhere to a “one size fits all” approach for this choice we do recommend that parents consider a developmental program that includes lots of opportunities for “make believe” play with peers.
Here are 5 reasons why “make believe” play should be an important part of your young child’s learning experiences:
1. “Make believe” play allows your child to learn and practice new cognitive and social skills.
2. “Make believe” play is a way for your child to explore his understanding of the world in which he lives.
3. “Make believe” play allows your child rehearsal for adult life.
4. “Make believe” play is a good medium for your child to express feelings.
5. Research has documented a connection between children’s play behavior during the early years and a wide range of emerging skills including memory, vocabulary, reasoning, creativity, and impulse control.
Your child learns from playing alone, playing with friends, and playing with his parents. Playful interactions stimulate your child’s brain and are key for your child’s development of a positive self concept.
Young children are provided with many opportunities for make believe play in our toddler groups and in our “preschool prep” program. One of our toddlers was very excited to report that she went with mommy to the dentist yesterday. “Come and play dentist with me!” she said to her toddler group friend.
In addition to having fun, these toddlers are using “make believe” play to prepare for the day when it will be their turn to go to the dentist! This kind of “make believe” or symbolic play helps children to master their fears of new situations such as going to the dentist or doctor.
Marilee Hartling RN, MFT
Child Development Specialist
Licensed Child and Family Therapist