How Your Toddler Learns Through Play and Pretend
Play is an important part of your child’s development. It encourages repetition, which is great for learning new skills, words and colors. You’ve probably noticed your toddler repeating the same task or imitating the way you answer the phone or brush your hair. Little ones find everyday life fascinating and are eager to be just like grown ups.
Repetition and copying their parents’ actions allow children to understand the world around them. They’re constantly making connections and learning independence. A toddler’s curiosity, observations and enthusiasm for daily activities plays a big part in how they develop.
How Imaginary Play and Repetition Sparks Learning
Young children love to repeat the same actions whether it’s emptying toys from a basket and refilling, completing the same puzzles or building towers and knocking them down. These activities don’t just keep your toddler busy, they play a vital part of their brain development.
Children begin to recognise familiar patterns, shapes and colors as they complete these tasks as well as practicing lots of new skills such as hand and eye coordination and fine motor skills.
Small children also begin to see their actions have results and are proud of what they have accomplished. This is known as cause and effect and is an important part of a child’s cognitive and social development.
Imaginary play with everyday objects is the perfect way for toddlers to learn new words and think creatively. Watching and copying adults, siblings or friends allows for them to make connections with their surroundings, determined to complete these tasks by themselves. You’ll begin to see that your little one wants to push their doll in a stroller or be the shopkeeper. Using their imagination is a cognitive skill that we all need in everyday life.
Why Learning Through Play Is Great for Children
Learning through play provides your child with wider life skills. They will begin to understand how people are feeling and thinking. Emotions are an essential part of life and once your toddler recognises happiness and sadness as well as all the other feelings we experience they will be able to connect more with the world around them and the people in it. Pretend play builds confidence and self awareness as they experiment with different roles.
3 Activities to Do at Home
1. Organize a Dinner Party
- Gather toddler friendly cups, plates and cutlery from the kitchen or from their toy box and place on a large picnic blanket or small table, even take lunch outside if it’s a sunny day.
- Invite all of your little ones favorite cuddly bears, bunnies and dolls and enjoy a drink and a slice of cake.
- Prepare actual food from the cupboards, share pretend meals amongst your friends or imagine a hot drink in your cup.
- Your toddler will love creating dishes for you to try and enjoy feeding their dolls.
- It’s the perfect way to get them interested in food and there are lots of ways to engage with your child during this activity explaining colors, tastes and actions as you enjoy the delicious spread.
2. Take On the Role of Physician
Visiting a physician can be a scary experience for your toddler. However, pretending to be the physician not only prepares your little one, but makes it a familiar and fun experience rather than a scary one. Pretending to check yours or their cuddly toys temperature, heart beat and ears is the perfect opportunity to get them ready for their appointment. During this activity, you will be naturally labeling parts of the body that they will start to recite back to you.
3. Make a Birthday Card for a Friend or Family Member
Toddlers love to get messy! Using paints, crayons and pens will allow for toddlers to express their creative side and start to recognise the different colors they are using as well as the shapes they are making. They will love giving their homemade birthday card or picture to a loved one taking pride in what they have achieved.
Here at Kids Konnect we offer a play-based curriculum that encourages young children to enjoy learning in everyday situations. Find out more.