Imaginary play, dramatic play, dressing up, dress ups, pretend play so many different names for almost the same thing.
Do your children like to dress up?
Photo credit: Angelina
We were lucky enough to be visiting extended family in the UK when we bought our first dressing up costume fully made.
Before then we just pretended.
Seeing such obvious pleasure we started receiving dressing up clothes for birthdays and Christmas with the same zeal. And so their dressing up chests began.
But what if we had started with the basic pieces, I wonder would we be in the same situation now?
Let me backtrack a little.
Living in a play void
It’s not an excuse I felt I lived in a play void. At the time I didn’t have influencers as I do now or people who would hold me accountable for this or that style of play.
The play around me was of the electronic kind heavy with passivity. This was the new shiny toy for everyone.
I was new to the area and didn’t have the connections to ‘my people’ you know the ones you always find that are just like you in a new area. We were all trying our best and flitting from one thing to another.
We take for granted what we have around us like good friends and influences but I missed having a book section to browse. We had a great library but without books already there how do you know which books to browse if you don’t know the section or the section is empty. So like countless mothers and women before me and since, I do the best I can with what I have, my memories and thoughts.
Way to encourage pretend play
- Not having much else to do . We instead read books a lot because they weren’t in short supply.
- We liked to do voices and act out sections by saying, ” show me how the elephant was moving through the jungle?”
- We used everyday items as we saw them to be something. We would often hear and still hear in our house. “Hey look at this, guess what I am?/this is?” as we would have a long sleeve not yet on dangling from our nose, stooped back ( elephant)
So we liked to fool around and pretend play.
We didn’t however get into grabbing everyday clothes from our wardrobes.
The kids did when they were at the grandparents house because they have amazing wardrobes that go back decades and you can find some really interesting things hidden in there. ( I still remember the platform shoes from my childhood. I used to wear. Still around for my boys)
We jumped from the imaginary play that used pure imagination to costumes pretty quickly and here is where I think we missed the foundations.
We were good at using toys to fuel our imagination and books. We played restaurants and car wash but not really characters or people. So when the costumes arrived this void was filled with superheroes in our case.
Is this type of pretend play bad?
Clearly they love their superheroes but their play stagnates. The superhero always wins out and saves some helpless person. While I let my sons play this, I don’t think I would be able to stop them frankly or want to, I do think this is what they crave but I do draw the line at how often they play.
Even with the countless books we have read together and now have around them this fixed pretend play isn’t pretend play at all but rehashes of programs they have watched. In a household were TV is limited I still note how pervasive TV and marketing has taken hold in our household.
The question is what to do next? What do you do to keep your play real? Do you actively influence the pretend play in your home? Is too much play really a bad thing?
I’m looking for ideas. ……… one place I’ll start is with the Simple Kids post this week.