The art of imaginative play
Our perception and impression of things have a great impact in all that we do and in the way we parent our children.
What is your image of a child? Do you see them as the most powerful learners, filled with a deep sense of wonder and curiosity?
As we think deeply about childhood and lay importance to the early years, our image of the child has a powerful impact on their childhood, our relationships with educators, our family, our community and our child’s life long journey. As parents we uncover the unique nature of each child as he/she grow physically, emotionally, psychologically and intellectually from a baby to a toddler to a kindergartener and so on.
As children enter preschool, parents begin to understand their children better in various aspects of the growing process – their strengths, their hiccups and their challenges. As they try to cope with the child’s development and complexities of modern life, preschool offers a support system where parents feel a sense of belonging and share responsibilities of nurturing a happy child.
Children from 3-5 years are often at the peak of their creative and imaginative capacity and often parents wonder how they could be a part of the child’s fantasy and imaginative world, urge to play and support their children in having creative relationships with toys or the natural world.
Parents could work with preschools in understanding the use of imaginative toys, exploratory play and pretend play to trigger their child’s imagination and emotional understanding. Such play encourages parents to follow their child’s lead, engage with their play and let the child determine the direction of her play. Some preschools do encourage parents to engage in such meaningful play for a while in the morning and evening at the centers in different explorative, pretend and socio-dramatic play corners.
So why is imaginative play crucial for children especially in the early years? Through explorative, pretend and socio-dramatic play children learn to effectively express which emotions they are feel, therefore building positive emotional expressiveness. Children who engage in more sociodramatic play express more positive emotion (engagement, thoughtfulness, understanding), less negative emotion (selfishness, need for attention, anger) and score higher on tests of emotional regulation and emotional understanding. Overall, sociodramatic play can improve a child’s emotional development from a very young age and lead to healthier emotional relationships.
As explained by Lev Vygotsky, the prop or the toy helps the child separate the meaning of something from reality and helps free the child from ‘situational constraints’. According to Vygotsky, there is a separation of thought from action and these are signs of early learning and developing of self-regulation.
In conclusion, for raising a happy, healthy and creative child, the way we play with our children has a powerful impact. So let’s begin to play and experience the imaginative world of our children.