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The land of make believe

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  • Category Advice Column, Child, Recently, Solarpop, Toy Box

Einstein famously said: “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”. Imagination might seem like something that is unique to children but as adults’ imagination is an integral part of our daily lives.

As adults we might not use our imagination to pretend a spoon is a microphone and live ourselves into a game pretending to be a rock star (although I’m sure most adults still do). We do however use our imagination to problem solve, visualise, conceive new ideas or innovations and to help us understand others’ perspectives. Like most skills, imagination is developed as children. Adults might put this skill to use in a way that seem less fun than how a child would use this skill, but that makes it no less an important skill to nurture at an early age. 

Early on toddlers start developing their imaginations through pretend play. This is vital to help them develop social, emotional and cognitive skills. There is also a strong connection between language development and pretend play. As children explore the world around them through pretend play vocabulary expand as they start to mimic new activities and interact with new items around them. As they grow older, they also start to actively involve other children into the play where the shared interaction further develops vocabulary out of a need to communicate. There is also an emotional development aspect as children now start to develop the ability to see others’ perspective.

As a child develops the way in which they pretend-play changes drastically in the following ways:

12-18 months – Children will perform single pretend play actions such as pretending to eat. As social development is limited this will be done by themselves without involving others in the action.

18-24 months – Children will start utilising realistic toys or objects to preform pretend play actions while starting to involve other. 

24-30 months – Children will start combining multiple pretend actions together, just like they would typically start combining words together to form basic sentences

3-5 years – It is at this stage where children will no longer only mimic actions and tasks they experience in their day-to-day life, such as pretending to cook because they saw an adult perform the action. 

Children will now start utilising their imagination and pretend play around concepts which is not real or doesn’t exist in a real-life scenario for them to mimic, like pretending to be a pirate or super hero.

Pretend play is a vital part of early development, allowing little ones to develop their imagination, explore the world around them and at an early age start discovering what they enjoy doing. You might discover a future little chef or help instil a sense of love for tasks adults find mundane such as cleaning. The important part is to enable children to explore and express their imagination to its fullest.

Find the widest variety of pretend play toys this festive season from 

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