I am always exploring volcanoes, rock climbing and catching fish. I run from dinosaurs, travel to the moon, swim the deep blue seas, and row my boat gently down the stream – all from the comfort of my living room! Every day, my children and I go where our imaginations take us. My children love to act out their own stories of dragons and princesses with the superhero saving the day. We usually end our day telling our pretend story, and there is always a request for more!
Their eyes light up as they live their hearts’ dreams and exciting adventures in our home and outside alike. It is important parents foster this special developmental characteristic – dramatic, pretend play. When children have positive ways of exploring their world, they gain many things:
1. Knowledge about the world around them
2. Problem solving skills
3. Critical thinking skills
4. Family bonding and togetherness
5. Life lessons
6. Independent thinking
7. Social skills
8. Increased physical activity while exploring their world
We use our pretend play time to learn about life; if we go to the moon one day then we turn it into a fun lesson. We talk about the moon and stars and at the end of the day we will read the book Goodnight Moon. It’s an entertaining way to include fun facts, games and stories, which further fuels their imagination.
One day, we took our shovels and we went on a dinosaur hunt. That was after we pretended to be dinosaurs, running from the T-Rexes that stomped across the carpet after us!
Even making playdough became a pretend play experience, as we pretended to cook our playdough and make pizzas – this has been the best way to teach our children.
Love of reading
They have learned and gained so much from practical, pretend play; it has really accounted for our children’s love of learning and reading. We even make the books come to life and make them feel ‘real’ by ‘living’ the books in our living room! My son has been reading since he was two years old and part of the reason for that is because we show our love for books by making them active and exciting! We have spent more time reading and then experiencing the books for ourselves as opposed to just watching television shows all day. Life is full of many ways and places to really use that imagination.
Pretend play time inspires our children to be creative and use their imaginations. It can be as easy as setting up a centre in the home dedicated to pretend play with items such as puppets, dress up clothes, and big boxes! Their world is full of different ideas and letting them have an outlet to use their imagination is beneficial for children’s creative development.
By doing things like bouncing across the floor and pretending I have just landed on the moon or putting up the tent and acting like the big bad wolf, my children and I have become closer. Because we spend that special time together insha Allah our children will grow up with wonderful memories of being with family and enjoying every moment masha Allah.
Keeps little ones busy
When they are playing amongst themselves they spend time in each others imaginative world, and they are entertained for hours. I find myself watching and smiling at them, children are amazing and have that innocence that makes them so special and unique. I laugh watching them pretend and play and talk to each other, subhanAllah it is beautiful.
Never too old!
You are never too old to enjoy pretend play; what happens is that we forget that we do enjoy it. By joining in with the kids’ pretend play, you will find that youthful spirit and energy that makes you feel half your age and takes you to a special place. I remember growing up and climbing the trees, playing with my identical twin sister – we lived in our own world. Now as a mum of five, I enter the world of five different individuals on a daily basis, and I learn something new about each of them through pretend play.
Children do not stay little forever; they grow so fast, and we often wonder, where did the time go? So make the best of this young age; even at the age of 30, I feel good when I pretend play with my children. It brings back that special feeling that we sometimes leave behind as we get older. I remember pretend playing with my sister and having a blast. We often forget that joy, and then potentially miss out on that wonderful part of childhood with our own children.
What we can achieve in life is only limited by our imagination.The sky is not the limit, but only one of the stops that we can rest at. Buzz said it best: we can go to infinity and beyond.
What will you pretend to be today and where will you go? Alhamdulillah, let your child lead the way to a world of endless possibilities!
Ameera Rahim is a homeschooling mom of five children residing in New York City. She and her husband Ameer Idris make up the parenting team known as Habeebee Homeschooling. Often found blogging at habeebeehomeschooling.wordpress.com, she provides support, advice, and resources for parents looking to provide a more hands-on educational method to teaching. Ameera can also be found at www.facebook.com/habeebeehomeschooling and www.traditionalmuslimah.blogspot.com.