Imaginative play is one of the most beneficial activities a young child can take part in. There are four major, proven benefits to imaginative play:

*development of symbolic thinking

*development of language

*development of emotional and social skills

*development of thinking skills

These core benefits demonstrate why imaginative play (or pretend play) is so essential to a young child’s life. If you’re a parent, you may be wondering how to encourage pretend play. Here are five great examples of how you can gently set your child in this direction.

1. Story Time 

Storytelling is a human tradition going as far back as our species does. It’s through stories that we teach lessons and pass them down from generation to generation. It shouldn’t come as a shock, then, that sharing stories is one of the best ways to activate your child’s imagination.

You don’t need a book or fancy illustrations, either. Just telling a story that you come up with on your own is enough to engage your child and get their brain working. There’s nothing that will get an imagination working like hearing a great story told by someone you love.

2. The Box 

Have you ever given a kid a really cool new toy, only to discover that they’d rather play with the box that it came in? Maybe the box is enough of a present, to begin with! If you throw in crayons, markers, and other playful items, the child can slowly transform the box into whatever they want it to be.

Maybe they’ll build a rocket ship. Or maybe they’ll turn it into a mansion. Whatever the case, a simple box can hold endless possibilities in a child’s imagination.

3. Playing Dress Up 

Got any old clothes that you aren’t using anymore? Or maybe Halloween costumes that are just sitting in a closet and gathering dust? Hand-me-downs and random items from around your home can become magical when given to a young child.

It’s not just about the act of dressing up either. Once they’ve created a costume, children have a tendency to want to role play in that costume, which stretches their imagination even further. They might find themselves taking on the role of a fairy in a mystical forest or an astronaut on a trip to the moon. Whatever the case, you can just provide the gear for dressing up and let your child’s imagination lead the way. Buy toys to fuel their imagination from Premier Glow.

Once your child has dressed up, try asking them questions about the character and world they’ve created. This isn’t just good for the child. According to research, parents are happier and less anxious when they take the time to play with their kids!

4. Stuffed Animals 

You’ve got a box acting as a rocket ship, and some old clothes serving as your kid’s astronaut gear. Just one problem: We need a pilot. No worries! Grab that cute stuffed bear and let him get to work.

Beyond expanding their imaginary world, seeing how your child interacts with stuffies can give you clues about what they’re absorbing from the world around them. If a child’s play roles are focused on caring roles, as a doctor, then the child is probably seeing similar care and kindness modeled in real life.

5. Downtime 

As a parent, it can be tempting to have a constant schedule of structured activities to fill up our child’s time. Don’t be scared of having free hours where nothing is going on. This free time can be filled with pretend play, and it can take place both inside or outdoors. Give your child time to explore nature, play with toys, and just have fun all on their own without any specific instruction.