5 Reasons Why Pretend Play is Important for Kids Development

Do your children enjoy pretend play?

Do you wonder how you can encourage them to engage in role play more?

Read on to find out why role play is important for kids' development and how to set up play spaces that foster creative pretend play.

If you have little ones you will know how important role play is and how much they love it right up to 10+ years of age in many cases.

Around 2 years old is the key time for role play to begin to emerge, often starting with little ones offering you a cup of tea or putting dolly on the potty.

But do you know why pretend play is so important, or how to encourage it in your kids?

Scroll down for 5 reasons why role play is crucial to children's healthy development.

Plus some ideas of how to create fun pretend play areas in your home.

5 Reasons Why Role Play Is Important For Kids

1. Encourages creativity and imagination

Pretend play helps children to naturally develop and hone their thinking skills. 

Through using their imagination regularly, their creativity develops and they learn to think for themselves.

This is how play begins to become children's 'work' allowing them the freedom to express themselves and to live in magical realms of possibility, if only temporarily.

How you can make it happen:

Create a dressing up box full of fun costumes, either bought or made, but add other things too.

Lengths of cloth and old scarves, shawls and pashminas can become table cloths, super hero capes or magic carpets.

Help children to make their own costumes, too.

A cardboard box and some silver foil can become an astronaut's space suit or a queen's crown.

Old clothes and shoes are fun too, so take a look in your own warddrobe to see what you can add.

2. Social and emotional development

Role play helps kids to develop socially and emotionally as they learn to show empathy and to care for others.

By pretending to be someone else, they are able to experiment with different social situations as well as different emotions.

They learn how to interact, co-operate and collaborate with each other in order to play.

How you can make it happen:

All you need to do is provide the opportunity to play, perhaps create a fun space to play in, and supply some materials they can use.

This could be with some signs, printed menus and play food, perhaps or by setting up a fire station or police station for your kids' play.

3. Improves communication and language

Pretend play is a safe environment in which children can express themselves.

They can practice new vocabulary and begin to understand the power of language and how to use it effectively.

Listening skills are honed as play scenarios encourage co-operative and collaborative play between children, or between parent and child.

How you can make it happen:

As you play with your child help them to learn the language of shopping, working, visiting a medical professional or being at the train station or the airport.

Each scenario, place or interaction has its own code of language and activities, help children learn what words to use where and how to approach different situations in their play.

4. Develops thinking, learning & problem solving skills

Pretend play should be free and only children set the rules.

Indeed, the very nature of imaginative play means that children need to decide what and how they are going to play, with whom and what they need for their game.

They also need to work out what to do when things go wrong.

All of this needs planning which involves cognitive thinking and a variety of other important skills like negotiation and compromise. 

How you can make it happen:

Leave them to it!

If no-one is bleeding or at risk, they will be OK and likely be able to sort any disagreements or problems out for themselves.

5. Supports physical development

If pretend play is active - a police officer chasing a robber for example, pirates fighting or Vikings questing to a new land - it will involve running, jumping and climbing.

In an age of screens, pretend play is the perfect antidote.

It is often physical and a great way for kids to develop their gross motor skills.

Smaller movements like changing a doll's clothes, brushing and plaiting hair, using coins or serving pretend food helps the development of fine motor skills, too.

How you can make it happen:

Set up role play spaces, supply costumes and equipment, even ideas if asked.

Then let them go for it! Try to bite your tongue on the 'Be careful's and let them take risks and have fun.

If you would like to set up a role play area or game for your kids, grab one or more of our pretend play sets.

From a visit to the dentist or the eye doctor to fun at the fire station, the police station or the airport, we have pretend play sets that will help your child play, learn and have tons of fun.

Pin it:

This post contains product and service links for your convenience. By clicking on these links I may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. I only suggest resources and items I believe in and highly recommend. Find out more on our Disclosure page.