In case you haven’t noticed, I really like imaginative play.
Lucky for me, so do my kids!
Kids learn so much from imaginative play.
It is an holistic type of play, covering all areas of develop and allowing the child to focus on and learn whatever he or she is most interested in or ready for at that moment. Learning is not isolated to one narrow, adult directed area as children practice and learn to integrate a wide variety of skills including; sharing, problem solving, maths and literacy skills, innovation, language, negotiation, concentration, working together, fine and gross motor skills and much more. Imaginative play is also a fabulous way for children to manage stress, to cope with difficult situations and to make sense of their world.
I wrote a whole article about why imaginative play is good for kids, but what I didn’t write about is that imaginative play is good good for parents too!
One of the best things about imaginative play is that one set up can be played with in lots of different ways so children of different ages, at different stages of development and with different interests can all play.
Right now my eight year old girls, my four year old boy, and occasionally even my 21 month old are all playing with the same imaginative play set up.
For the girls, part of the joy was collecting the items and setting the scene. They like making ‘pretty displays’ so heading out to the garden with a basket and some scissors to collect leaves and flowers and arranging them around the scene was lots of fun.
Today’s set up is an ‘Elven party’. It includes fairies, elves, a bear, and a few warriors. Something for everyone!
Because imaginative play is open-ended, meaning there is lots of ways to play, it is easier for everyone to accommodate others’ ideas. It makes sharing and playing together much easier.
It also means there is less frustration for Morgan who going through a patch where he feels he can’t ‘do anything right’. Because there is no right or wrong way to play he feels confident and empowered.
Noey comes and goes from the play. He climbs up onto a chair and rearranges a few things, steals a rock or a mushroom or deposits something new to play with. The big kids tolerate him ‘wrecking’ things because they can easily write him into the story. He is a tornado that rips through the party, or a monster, or a wizard…
There are not many activities that all four kids can do together with barely any supervision or interaction from me.
And they’ve been playing for over two hours… that’s why I love imaginative play!
Disclaimer : After two and a half hours playing with the Elven Party, it did end in lots of tears from the four year old perfectionist, and it took a lot of control to keep my yell in. I still like imaginative play, but I’m just ‘keeping it real’ in case you all think that my kids are some kind of angels, or I have some kind of magic ability to set up activities that make my kids play happily together for hours.