Children can be anyone they want to be while immersed in play: mom/dad, grandma/grandpa, a doctor, a firefighter, or a unicorn – just to name a few. Usually, imaginative play starts off simply when a child begins to imitate things they observe in their environment. They may pick up a play phone and bring it to their ear or bring a toy cup to their mouth. Eventually, as a child gets older their pretend play will contain an entire story.
Why does imaginative play make my heart sing? Pretend play shows us that children are becoming symbolic. They are learning to use one object to represent another (i.e. he picks up a block and pretends to talk on the phone.) This is important to language because words are a set of symbols that we use to represent people, places, actions, ideas, and abstract concepts like emotions (happy, sad, mad) or physical states (hungry, tired, cold). When a child begins to use pretend play we can see the foundation for language learning grow.
Randi is wife and mother to three kids aged 12, 10 and 4. She was born and raised in West Bloomfield where she is currently a stay-at-home mom to provide language rich activities for her youngest, who has Autism. Prior to making the switch to full time mommy, Randi was a pediatric speech pathologist for the past 15 years.