Child's Play: Pretend Games To Play With Your Child
by Jill Brennan

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Creative play is crucial to every child to help foster a healthy imagination. However, the term creative play may be a bit misleading. Usually, when creativity is mentioned, the first thing we think of is arts and crafts. But creative play is much more than that. Role playing games, or Playing Pretend also falls under the Creative Play banner.

What Are the Benefits of Role Playing With Your Child?

1. Playing with your child allows you to better understand your child. Sure, you may always be playing the same thing, but this also can give you insight into how your child thinks and what he or she is feeling. If your child is going through a stressful situation (such as a divorce, a new baby, a death, a move, etc.), pretending may give you insights into how to help your child cope with change. Children rarely pretend themselves into stressful situations they have no control over.

2. Role Playing games give your child opportunities for mental growth and learning. Children can experiment and explore new ideas and new ways of thinking in a safe environment that can be ended at any time.

3. Pretending builds problem-solving skills. While role playing, children can be placed into safe situations that require them to make choices and decisions. When you are playing right next to them, they know they are safe. Many parents, teachers, and law-enforcement agencies encourage you to role-play more dangerous situations to teach your children how to react (Stranger Danger).

4. Role playing encourages self-expression and helps them cope with their feelings. For the most part, try to allow your child to determine what goes on during play. Allow them to be the directors and script writers.

5. Pretending fosters their imagination. Television and video games rob children of imagination and independent thinking. Imagination helps us set goals and gives us the hope needed to achieve them.

Here are 3 educational game ideas you can do in your home to foster creative play.

Create a make believe shop such as a grocery store. You can use items found around the house such as tin cans, used cereal boxes, plastic fruits etc. Price the items, make some paper money and don't forget the shopping cart (you could just use a basket or a box)! Decide who gets to shop and who gets to be the shopkeeper. Help your children make a shopping list and then start shopping.

Girls love to play "makeover". Prepare a hairdressing prop box with combs, brushes, clips, empty bottles of shampoo, conditioner, cream, rollers, and an old hairdryer (without the cord of course).

Great way to recycle some of that stuff in the closet such as hats, coats, scarves, dresses, shirts, shoes and accessories. Children love to experiment with different looks and pretend to be someone else.

You and your children can come up with many more fun ideas for creative play. If there is a certain issue you would like to tackle (such as Mommy and Daddy's upcoming split, stranger danger, the new baby arriving soon, the passing of a pet, etc.), why not use this method? It won't sound like a lecture and you may learn something about your child, plus you will be able to give them an outlet for their confusion, excitement, or pain. Above all, they will treasure the time you spend with them, making the experience most invaluable.

Get all the information you need to help you discover toys that will enhance your child's learning through play: Encourage your child's development and teach them about themselves.

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