Pretend Play and Why It’s Important

I have this dream where someday Dylan will surpass me in cooking (thanks to watching several episodes of Junior Masterchef). Then I’ll just let him cook up our meals and I’d be a happy mother sitting on the table waiting for my food to be served.

But, that’s not happening anytime soon. So, we’ll just pretend for most part of the cooking.

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Dylan loves to “cook”. Maybe because he sees me in the kitchen most of the time when we were still living in our one-bedroom apartment here in Manila. He’ll be wherever I’ll be and he only has two options – the bedroom or the kitchen.

There came a point when Dylan would view my kitchen work as competition. He would squeeze himself between the cupboard and me and push until I back away from the kitchen counter and play with him (he was only a year old at the time). We didn’t have a househelp then so I was doing everything by myself. One day, my husband told me to just let him in on what I was doing. That was the start of his kitchen exposure.

Some of the ways I let Dylan help me in the kitchen: 

  • Take off the leaves of the kangkong, alugbati, or malunggay.
  • Help break the string beans into pieces.
  • Measure the cups of rice, wash it, and place it in the rice cooker.
  • Stir the soup or stir-fry (with mommy or daddy’s assistance).
  • Wash dishes. (Very rarely because we’d both get wet and bubbly. So would the floor)

Pretend play and why I encouraged it

I got him this fruit chopping toy from ToyTinkr because I saw him attempting to grab a knife and onion from the kitchen counter to “help” me with cooking. *Gasp!* That hasn’t happened again. Thank goodness.

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It took him a while to slice the fruits properly. But it was fun to watch him practice with it.

He’d make sure his fingers were away from the knife.

He’d hold the fruit properly because if he didn’t it would pop out of his hands.

When I’m done “eating” the fruits, he’d put them together and slice them again.

I gave him bowls to place his fruits. When he’s done, he’d call out to us and say “Dinner!” no matter what time of day. The toy helps him practice his fine motor skills as well.

There’s so much more to pretend play. Children not only get to play different roles, but they also get to develop their:

  • Social and emotional skills
  • Language skills
  • Thinking skills
  • Imagination

All these can help them later on in life. You can find a more detailed explanation here.

I can see Dylan slowly developing in all these aspects. Now, he knows when to pretend and when not to, such as “pretending” to eat the toy fruits or play dough ice cream. He gets to act out the roles that his daddy and I do, like “working” on a pretend laptop (book) or going to school in his car and putting on his seatbelt. He gets to try out the new words he hears all the time and apply it to the proper situation, like “Chu! Chu! All aboard!” when playing trains. He also gets to use his brain as he tries to make a robot, castle, car, or anything else out of his megablocks.

That’ll be it for today. It’s almost time for lunch and it’s time to eat the “dinner” that our little guy made for us.

How do you encourage pretend play with your kids? I’d be happy to know!

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The dinner prepared by our little guy. 

 

 

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