Imaginative Play

My teaching experience and working with children spans over a period of around thirty years. I have played with children, taught them, shared stories and life experiences with them as well. Imaginative play is of paramount importance in the lives of growing children. They absorb information from their surroundings and from the people around them and then love to act it out.

I still remember playing with my siblings and cousins imagining that we were getting our dolls married. We cooked food and carried out most of the rituals exactly the way we saw and experienced in real life situations. I remember, through that play we practiced so many valuable skills, starting from planning, cooperating, organizing and doing things, to making decisions which were acceptable to all participants.

Although imaginative play is close to children’s heart, adults usually ignore or don’t think that there is merit in children’s imaginative activities. Very few adults take interest and understand the necessity of participation, which is sad. Adults should actually encourage children for imaginative play.

Children usually find suitable places and toys to engage in such activities. Under a dining table, behind a large sofa, under a doona or out in the back yard they can setup their scene. Where it is important to have a suitable place for these role plays, the toys play a significant role in these imaginative plays.

There are lots of children toys that facilitate such imaginative role play. Toy kitchens, doctor’s sets, fire trucks, realistic models of animals, soldiers, building blocks, models of super heroes and robots are just few examples.

These days my own grandchildren are playing with playdough making pancakes, straw berries, blueberries, fried eggs and sausages in a mould. You can place an order in their kitchen and they work really hard to get your order ready, shaping the playdough into edible items that look real. I observed them learning the skills to relate to adult’s life, learning the language, developing skills to organize the order neatly in a tray and then politely serving it. There was a demand for the payment and the change was given back as well. I strongly believe that where imaginative play is giving all the above mentioned skills, it helps the children unwind, enjoy and relax. They become confident and feel important.

Nuzhat Ejaz

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