Immy (aged 3 1/2) “teaching school” in the cubby house this week…
“Today we are going to learn about not being afraid of the rain. This is the grey cloud and the rain coming down. There is nothing to be scared of in the rain. It’s just rain.”
– insert short pause –
“And you wear an umbrella. And a raincoat and hat.”
Back in April we were out at the park and got caught in a storm. We had an umbrella but it was honestly no match for the ferocious wind and rain which seemed to appear out of nowhere. Ever since it happened Immy has been more than a little nervous to be out when it is raining. She doesn’t even like the sound of heavy rain on the roof when we are at home.
So when I overheard her teaching her toys to not be afraid of the rain, I was reminded of the importance of imaginative play as a way for children to internalise and understand real life experiences. In this case it is a real fear. At other times it could be working through overwhelming emotions, stress, understanding social conflicts or processing something the child has seen, heard or learned from others.
Having the space, time and freedom to play imaginatively, provides children with a sense of power – they feel capable of being in control, of figuring things out, of thinking things through, of solving problems.
Of course, each child’s preferred style of imaginative play is unique. One child may love role playing in the home corner, another is obsessed with dressing up as a superhero and uses whole body movements for expression, a third re-enacts life experiences with animal figurines, or trains and planes, or dolls, or puppets.
However they choose to play, imaginative play is important and valuable. And this is just one of many reasons why!
How sort of imaginative play or role play does your child most enjoy?