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Understanding How Pretend Play Changes With Age

Posted on January 14, 2013 by Raksha There have been 0 comments

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Much has been written about make believe play or pretend play in all parenting magazines and books. It seems that we all understand it perfectly. But I feel that understanding of make believe play across age is still not a very talked about topic, especially among us mothers. Pretend play starts as early as 9 months and continues right through 8 years in its active form. So, what is it that changes in our child’s pretend play and can we point out those changes? Piaget believed that through pretending children practice and strengthens newly acquired representational schemes.

One blog post can’t do justice to all the age groups, hence I will break it down and today I will try and analyze how pretend play of an 18 month old is different from a 3 year old.

Play increasingly detaches from real life conditions associated with it: In their early years toddlers use only real life versions to imitate. So a toy plate will be used to serve food. But from 3 years onwards, your child will start using generic objects instead of specific objects. Have you seen your 3 year old using a block as a serving plate? As your kids grow older, entering from the toddler to the Pre K phase, the association with the real object goes down drastically.

Play becomes less self-centered: An 18 month old is almost always the main attraction of their stories. More times than less, you may also find that they are also the only participant in their play. As your child will reach the Pre K years, they will start pretending action towards different object/s. You may see your child feeding their dolls. As they enter their 3rd year, they mostly become detached participants, where you see will see that your child is making the parent doll feed the baby doll. For your Pre K kid play will be more about others and will increasingly have multiple participants.

Play makes for complex plots: As your child is approaching 3 years, make believe play gradually includes more complex situations. To elaborate on this, now your child will not only pretend to drink the imaginary tea from their cups but will prelude it by pouring it out first. And going forward as your child approaches their 4th year, they will pretend the same along with their peers.

Building on Ideas of play with peers: By the age of 4 year, you will start noticing that your kid is now learning to build on one another’s play ideas. They can now create and co-ordinate several roles, and have a sophisticated understanding of story lines. Your little one has also begun to understand that pretend is a deliberate effort to act out Imaginary ideas. As a parent you will be happy to see them learning to assign roles and negotiate plans for play.

Source: LAURA E BERK – Book Child Development

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