Pretend Play Checklist
Why exactly is pretend play such an important developmental milestone?
Why is Pretend Play important? This is simple - Children learn through play. When play is limited or does not grow with them, their learning, understanding, social skills and speech can stagnate!
Pretend play starts when children are babies. They may hold a spoon as they are being fed and offer the spoon to the parent or carer. The Parent or carer then often pretends to eat! This can then be linked to vocabulary understanding and talking as the parent will often comment on this play: “for me!”, “no, no your dinner”, “yum-yum”, “more for me”, “you eat it”, “thanks for sharing”.
If children do not initiate or parents do not engage in the play, the lost opportunity for learning is enormous.
Free Pretend Play Checklist
Imaginative Play follows Developmental Milestones across the ages:
The emergence of pretend play from early baby interaction then follows developmental milestones. Just like how children develop from sitting, crawling to walking. Pretend play builds from feeding dolly a biscuit to discussing the possibility of amazing worlds, creatures and planets! Language, understanding, science, social interactions and telling story skills build along-side the development of the play.
Why complete a Pretend Play Checklist?
- Informs Parents of what kind of play and toys to offer the child: If parents are aware of the stages and ages of the different types of pretend play they can adapt their play to match where a child’s play skills are at. By playing at the same stage and just one step ahead of your child’s play developmental level you will provide fantastic learning opportunities – Opportunities to boost social skills, understanding and speaking!
- Helps to observe if social play with friends is developing “Ok”. Pretend play lays the foundations to play with others in socially appropriate ways. It can build co-operation and empathy skills (caring about how others feel) skills. Completing the checklist can inform parents as to why a child a seeking out particular types of play situations. Young children tend to play “next to” or “parrellel” to their peers. However if this type of play stagnates, valuable social skill development can also stop in it’s tracks. Parents can use the Play Checklist as a starting block to see if the kind of play a child is engaging in is still “OK” for the child’s age.
- Late talking and Autism can be linked to reduced or atypical play skills Reduced (e.g., no interest in toys or interactional play) or unusual (e.g., restricted, repetitive play e.g,, lining toys up) can be early flags of delayed development. Play is considered a “foundation skill” for language and learning. Monitoring play skills from an early age helps to identify areas to boost to minimise or reduce potential developmental difficulties.
Who should complete the Pretend Play Checklist?
- Parents, carers, teachers and health professionals that support children from 12 months to 6 years. The Pretend Play checklist is a great starting point to begin to think about this important developmental milestone.
- This checklist also matches pretend play ideas of toys and the type of play you can encourage for each age level to boost imaginative play skills!
Remember if you have serious concerns about your child’s development always seek medical advice from your GP, health nurse or allied health professional. SpeechNet Speech Pathology & Learning Centre are happy to answer questions or provide developmental assessments for you child.