How to Enrich Children’s Play Through Make-Believe Play Experience: Post from Mum and Babies
While we are enjoying some extra snuggle time with the Monkeys, we are so pleased to be able to bring you a series of posts from some of our favorite bloggers. Today’s post comes to us from YuMei of Mum and Babies.
YuMei and I are fellow members of both Bahá’í Mom Blogs and Multicultural Kid Blogs. Her company and blog are based on the belief that “each child’s extraordinary potential needs to be nurtured and developed.” YuMei not only has over ten years of experience working in early childhood settings, she is also a mother who founded her company after she saw how few practical educational resources were available for young children.
It is a pleasure to share YuMei’s post with you today, about how to enrich children’s play through make-believe.
The popular view of play as an important tool for learning in early childhood is agreed on by most of researchers, educators and parents. I did a little bit research on the terms used to describe children’s play. The popular terms on the list: imaginative playing, playing make-believe, role-play etc. Play has a significant influence on child development, especially during the preschool and kindergarten period (3-6 years old). According to Vygotsky and Piaget’s theory: make believe play enhances children’s cognitive and social-emotional development in mathematical ability, early literacy concepts and self-regulation. My personal observation as mother and early childhood educator is that play is a joyful, creative and spontaneous learning experience for young children. Thus, many learning opportunities should be provided either through real work experience or make-believe play experience to contribute to their learning and development.
What games or activities can we provide to enrich children’s play through make-believe play experiences?
Here are some ideas that have been time tested and still popular among us:
Play “Grocery Store, toy shop, clothes shop” games to encourage children to develop their vocabularies and role-play the appropriate behaviour of different roles in that content! Create a shopping list by drawing pictures or cut out the pictures of items for their “shopping experiences.”
Play “Doctor Game” – visiting a doctor to get a vaccination or when having a cold! Encourage the child to take over the role of mother, doctor and patient to act out their feelings and emotions. Vocabularies and responsibilities they each respond to in real life experience through his/her own interpretation.
Play “Occupations Game” – fireman or postman is the most popular game children in my class which they never get tired of! During play they allocate each other roles and rotate, they set the rules and came up with many creative ideas in their play!
Play “Dress-up Game” – dressing up dolls and a pretend situation with different costumes. The benefits for make-believe to young children are the development of creativity, empathy, decision-making and problem-solving. Children use make-believe to conquer their fears and explore their hopes and wishes. In make believe play, children initiate actions, interactions and feel safe in self-expression.
I have seen my daughter who is just 2 years old using imaginative play to express herself in response to different situations.
• She was talking to two puppets about not using a loud voice as “it is too noisy” –she is often scared of the two little dogs in grandpa’s place because they bark very loudly when someone new arrives.
• She showed the “doggies” how to do puzzles and read book to them acting exactly like what an adult would usually do together with her!
• She enjoys playing ‘ice-cream shop’ with her little friends holding an ice-cream cone made of paper and walking around the room to offer them ice-cream.
• She loves finger puppets for story telling and imaginative play.
One thing I have learnt in supporting children’s imaginative play is that a child must be active and remain herself/himself in their play. It is important not to suppress the initiatives of children; otherwise, the play can be destroyed and it will lose its value for development. Talking through roles and rules with the child and supplying them with toys and props which represented different cultures will broader their understanding and enhances their appreciation of people from different social roles and cultural environment.
Enjoy some fun times for playing make-believe as a family activity!
You hit the nail on the head as far as the benefits of play and I can relate completely to what you observe in your child, as I have had similar observations with my little one in his pretend play. Probably his favorite pretend play (not involving trains and cars) was our library adventure at home, where I set up a library and coffee shop at home. http://jennifischer.blogspot.com/2012/04/making-something-out-of-nothing-2.html
Lovely post! We spend a lot of time with make-believe play here! It’s so fun to take a step back and watch my daughters in their role play. It’s a little window into what they are processing.
What a wonderful post! My 4 yr. old loves pretend play, his favorite one right now is being a teacher, and we are his students. He even sets the “rules” and will not continue with story time until his Daddy and I are ‘quiet’ LOLOL
Thank you for this post. I believe so strongly that free imaginative play is as important to the child as felling loved and feeling secure. It is so easy to cram the child’s time with directed play, games, extra classes and computer games that the time for free imaginative play is scheduled out. Parents try so hard to do the best for their children and sometimes forget how necessary free imaginative play is to the development of their child.
Seeing a child engrossed in their imagination is such a beautiful thing and delights me every time I see it.