We know the drill, it has happened to every parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle and generous friend… a little one receives a big, shiny new toy and they inevitably end up playing with the box. The box – we know! But to the child that isn’t just any box, that’s the Millennium Falcon on a mission to save the rebels from the grips of the evil Empire or it's Elsa’s ice palace from Frozen or something as simple as a house for all their toys. Why the box?! It’s a world of pure imagination...
And your little one’s imagination should be encouraged at every opportunity… unleashed… well, within reason, obviously. And during the summer months there is no better time to let those imaginations run wild. Fire their imaginations, take them on adventures and get them active with spontaneous outdoor fun and games.
Turn the garden into Treasure Island, and your little ones are the pirates in search of buried treasure with a homemade treasure hunt… Come up with the clues and send them on their way, just don’t forget to actually hide some treasure for them to find. Or better still, get them to come up with the fun and games, let your little ones take you on a journey and just go with it.
The wonder of a child’s imagination is an extremely important part of their development, both cognitively and socially. Make believe play encourages your little one to think they can do anything, and the benefits aren’t limited to their childhood, it can help frame who they will become.
- role-playing the adult life aids, understanding of the world around them
- develops social skills
- inspires emotional development and encourages empathy
- can increase language skills and develop problem solving
- builds confidence with social interaction
- promotes creativity
When it comes to children playing together, we know that this can sometimes be easier said than done, but getting little ones to play together is an important step in their development. To start with they’re not always very good at sharing or cooperating – don’t worry, it is all perfectly normal. By instinct they only want their own way, which is why getting children to play together can be key in their social development.
There are clear stages that can be seen in a child’s play, and typically it goes along the lines of playing alone to playing side by side to finally interacting with other children. It can be a process, some children are more shy than others. But by encouraging children to play together you help them to build their confidence, enrich their emotions and develop some great life skills.
Just from playing together, children develop their verbal and listening skills which improves their social interaction. Games like pass the parcel and musical chairs are great as they help children learn how to share and take turns, essentially developing a sense of self and others around them. It is through play like this where your little one can begin to feel sympathy and ultimately develop empathy.