Imaginative play allows children to use their creativity and “play pretend”, while exploring the world around them. This is actually very important for their development! The Kangaroo Forest explains the importance of imaginative play:
Imaginative play is any form of loosely structured activity that allows a child to use their imagination and roleplay. This includes playing school, “cooking” in their kitchen, playing superheroes, etc. Imaginative play can be done alone or with others. It is often more beneficial for the child to “play pretend” with others.
Children have a lot to learn from imaginative play! Because imaginative play is the simulation of real-life situations and interactions, children are learning social and problem-solving skills. They’re learning how to communicate with others and think outside the box.
Depending on the scenario or activity, children are also learning important life skills. For instance, play kitchens teach children how to prepare and cook food — a necessary skill for the future. A child who partakes in simulated cooking is more likely to help out in the real kitchen as well!
Furthermore, you may notice improvements in your child’s fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Many imaginative play activities require physical activity and precision, such as dressing baby dolls when playing Mom or Dad, riding stick horses while playing cowboys, etc.
Finally, imaginative play is also great for teaching emotional intelligence and self-regulation. When interacting with their peers, children will be forced to compromise and use teamwork to come to a resolution. Because emotional intelligence is a learned behavior, children struggle with not getting their way — and in group settings, they won’t always get their way! Working with others in fun, creative environments will teach children to manage their emotions and maturely work toward a common goal.