Learning Tip: Let's Pretend
Have you noticed a bit of pretend play going on in your house? Toward the end of a child’s second year, toddlers are pretending in a variety of ways. They feed their stuffed animals (or pretend to feed you!). They pretend to talk to grandma on the phone and sometimes even wait for her to answer! Plain objects like wooden blocks become cars, houses or mountains. Moving from functional play (a ball is rolled and otherwise used as a ball) to pretend or dramatic play is a big step for young children. It means that children can use objects symbolically – above and beyond their functional uses.
Toy animals and dolls make great companions during pretend play. They are willing to lie down and go to sleep, be cuddled tightly, and attend a tea party! Children can build their understanding about how the world works through their interactions in the pretend world. Ask your toddler, “What does your bear eat?” or “Where does he sleep?” While the responses might be brief (one- or two-word answers are very appropriate for this age), what is going on inside your child’s head is anything but simple. Expand this line of questioning to a trip to the zoo or the park. What do elephants eat? How about dogs? Where do they sleep? Don’t discourage your child’s more imaginative answers to these questions. As he continues to explore and observe the world around him, he’ll expand his understanding of the “practical” as well as the “possible.”
More on pretend play:
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