I took a Parenting and Child Guidance class and we read a book by Laura E. Berk called, Awakening Children's Minds: How Parents and Teachers Can Make a Difference. Berk explains in one of the chapters how make-believe play contributes to a child's learning and development. Here are some highlights that I found!
When children are given a goal in their play, they are able to keep their attention longer. Goals in play can be as simple as building something out of blocks or acting out a scenario. One study found that 2- to 4-year-olds in a child care center spent 45-50 percent of their free time in make-believe play, which was twice as much time as they spent in any other activity.
In one study, 4-to 5-year-old kids were asked to remember a group of toys. The first group was allowed to play with them, but the second group was not. It was found that the first group had greater recall. Because children are often acting out a story in their play, they are able to better understand storytelling, how stories are organized, and can remember them better.
Language and Literacy
Because the language in make-believe play corresponds with actions performed, children can take meaning from words that might be unfamiliar. When children play with one another, they learn about disagreements, persuasion, expressing their point of view, and listening to others. It has been found that the amount of time a 4-year-old spends pretending is positively correlated to reading and writing skills after entering kindergarten and first grade.
Children are often seen setting challenges for themselves when engaged in this type of play and develop responsibility. Many studies have found that make-believe play fosters self-guided private speech, a willingness to take on chores, and a capacity to delay gratification for brief periods which are all indicators of a self-regulated child.
So, grab your child and engage in some make-believe play! It's benefiting them more than you would think!