How to See the Learning in Your Childs Pretend Play
My goal for the afternoon is to tame the mountain of clothes that have taken up permanent residence on top of my dryer. I am carrying precarious piles of folded clothes from our laundry area to my bedroom which puts me directly in the path of the "airplane" that my kids have constructed in the hallway of all places. What makes the obstacle course more fun is that while I'm balancing clothes and looking out for legos that poke and stuffed animals that slide on the floor, my children are darting about making tickets and issues orders.
Now yes, it probably would have made more sense for me to fold the baskets of clothes in my bedroom rather than transport them but I didn't anticipate the hall would suddenly become an airplane so here we are.
My kids often get lost in this kind of busy, messy play in our afternoons. It's wonderful and creative, but it also sometimes drives me crazy.
My home was a much tidier place before kids.
The reason I take deep breaths and dodge the ever-expanding play is that I know this play is where the magic happens.
This over the top, imaginative play has been my goal since the first time my kids pretended to put a baby to sleep or talked on their banana phone.
This pretend play is where the learning happens.
The best learning.
Sure we sit down and read books together and sing songs. We practice recognizing letters when we ride the train and they help me figure out change at the Farmers' Market. We navigate with maps and play stacks of board games. Children are complex people and their learning should be no different or less diverse.
However, Pretend play is where they take all of this - the ideas and information and experiences and questions and concerns - and they work them out.
Can you see it?
The next time your child crawls under the table and sets up their trains, watch. Can you see what they are figuring out?
The next time your child announces that you are the mama polar bear and they are the baby polar bear, say okay. Can you join in and answer their questions?
The next time your child tells you an elaborate story about airplanes and bumblebees and a space ship, listen. Can you hear their thought process?
Nurture this play with materials for pretending.
Encourage this play with space and time.
Value this play because it is where their true deep learning happens.
Pretend play is where children put together the pieces of what they are learning. It is where they are safe to make mistakes and try out solutions. It is where they tackle big ideas or discover new questions. It is where children learn to collaborate with others and navigate conflicts.
Pretend play, from the huge airplane in the hallway kind to the tiny detailed lego imaginative world kind, have the power to help children make their own connections and find creative answers to their questions.
So, eventually I gave up. The laundry, now partially filling my bed and still partially stacked on the dryer, took a back seat because I was given a more important role. I was now a Mama bunny on the airplane. I was handed my ticket and seated by my 10 stuffed animal bunny children (thank goodness that's not real!) and was given instructions for seatbelt fastening.
The laundry could wait until we landed.
As a bonus to subscribers, I send out a printable list of PLAY every day Ideas every month! Simple ways to engage your child in play every day of the month. These ideas will;
*Be low prep
*Involve very few materials
*Have a short time commitment
*Address all areas of development
*Primarily be geared towards 2-5 year olds
*Carve out a little bit of time every day to play
If you already subscribe to the Newsletter, your PLAY every day calendar of ideas for August should be in your inbox.
If NOT, Subscribe to the Bambini Newsletter so you don't miss out!
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