From three to five years, you’re child’s imagination flourishes at an incredible pace. Your child will gain huge satisfaction from imaginative play – whether it’s bringing small figures to life, dressing up and living out their dreams or organising a soft toy school. Encouraging your child’s pretend play helps them learn more about the real world, and discover who they are.

Let's pretend together

As your child leaves their toddler years behind them, they’re starting to understand the needs of others. While still strong-willed, your child will begin to enjoy playing with friends, can share and take turns. Imaginative play helps your child practise social skills. By bringing small figures to life and making them talk to each other and enjoy adventures together, your child is showing that they are starting to be able to put themselves in someone else’s shoes – crucial for enjoying good friendships. They’ll enjoy this kind of small figure play alone, and also increasingly with a friend. A small doll family, animals, explorers, fairies, knights, pirates or whatever other kind of figures your child enjoys are perfect for inspiring this kind of pretend play.

Imaginative play 'why?'

Now your child’s communication skills are finally catching up with their complex thoughts. When your child asks you ‘Why?’ it’s a wonderful sign that their inquisitive mind wants to make sense of the world. Your child also uses pretend play to try and work out ‘why’. While your child might sometimes seem to live in a fantasy world – perhaps they crawl around as a cat, answer only to their pirate name or tell very tall tales – they do know the difference between fact and fantasy, and it is through immersing themselves in fantasy play that your child increases their understanding of the real world.

Acting out real life

Just as we might rehearse a difficult situation in our heads, children use imaginative play to explore new or tricky situations. So playing school or nursery with you or soft toys is a great way for your child to focus on starting school. Similarly, dressing up as a doctor or nurse and ‘treating’ you or a poorly Teddy is a safe way for your child to face their fears of a doctor, dentist or hospital trip – all in the security of home. Becoming someone else for a while is how your child learns a little bit more about themselves and others.

This play idea is great for...

  Social skills
Sharing pretend play with one or more friends is a wonderful way for your child to enjoy co-operative and mutually rewarding time with other children.
  Imaginative play
Imaginative play inspires your child to broaden their horizons and actively use their young mind, which is great for creative problem-solving and learning skills.
  Building confidence
By acting out imaginary scenarios – which might sometimes relate to new or difficult real-life events – your child can learn more about the world and develop a secure sense of how they fit in.