This post from Psychology Today in 2012 is still relevant to anyone with young kids wondering how do they start understanding that other people have other ideas and other needs.
It is by three deep thinkers about play: Dr. Jerome L. Singer, a Professor Emeritus of Psychology at Yale, who specializes in -- and really brought America's attention to -- the importance of imagination and daydreaming; and his equally distinguished wife, the late Dorothy Singer, also a senior research scientist in Yale's psych department; and Scott Barry Kaufman, a psychologist at Columbia University who co-authored Wired to Create: Unravelling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind, and hosts The Psychology Podcast. Whew! Lots of brain power!
In their piece on "The Need for Pretend Play in Child Development," they talk about why imaginative play is so vital to normal child development. The studies they reviewed...
When children use toys to introduce possible scenarios or friends, the representation of multiple perspectives occurs naturally. Taking on different roles allows children the unique opportunity to learn social skills such as communication, problem solving, and empathy (Hughes, 1999).
It's cool to think that even a kid who has the truck talking to the car in two different voices is practicing something as advanced as trying to think about what someone ELSE is thinking. What's more:
Systematic research has increasingly demonstrated a series of clear benefits of children’s engagement in pretend games from the ages of about two and one half through ages six or seven. Actual studies have demonstrated cognitive benefits such as increases in language usage including subjunctives, future tenses, and adjectives.
Some of us, ahem, spent many, many hours -- okay, years -- playing "Wicked Witch" with anyone who would agree to listen to a lot of cackling. Whether this led directly to a whole lot of success as a student or adult is (like a broom) perhaps still up in the air. But those hours (years) did not keep anyone back, even though that same time was not devoted to homework or lessons of any sort.
Free free to share your stories of imaginative play from back in the day. And if you figured out how to give that to your kids, tell all.
Photo by @patrickian4 on Unsplash.