Sunday 20 October 2019

Why you should be encouraging Pretend Play with your Little Ones

When I look back on my own childhood, it's full of memories of fun, pretend play and cooking people pretend meals in my kitchen and it's something I feel is so important for children. Arran and I are relatively laid back when it comes to parenting Joshua, we have television time and he also has time to play on his own but one thing we agreed on equally is that there should be fun with pretend play too. 

Encouraging Joshua's creativity and mind is something we do a lot of because the pros are invaluable for children. It was one of the many reasons we wanted Joshua to have a kitchen for his second birthday. He adores watching me cook and helping me when it's safe so we just knew it was the perfect gift for him and I've been enjoying a number of pretend coffees since his birthday. 

Learning through pretend play is widely recognised by practitioners as an essential method of learning and development for young children so we turned to the Great Little Trading Company as we loved the ethos of the brand and their use of wood for toys.  

GLTC are passionate about wooden toys and their Buy Wood, Buy Once campaign struck a cord with us as we're trying to be as eco-conscious as possible at the moment. The campaign encourages you to buy wooden toys for your children that will be passed down for years to come. Swapping plastic for wood has been our mission for a lot of Joshua's toys, some we've found more difficult to do than others but with any change, little steps make all the difference and so we welcomed the beautiful Marshmallow Wooden Toy Kitchen (£180.00) into our lives. 

One thing I love about pretend play is that the majority of larger toys such as kitchens, shops and coffee shops are made from wood just like the toys that accompany them too. GLTC have a great range of wooden kettles, toasters and food produce to compliment the kitchen and it's something we'll be looking to add to Joshua's kitchen set up soon. 

Joshua didn't need telling twice, he ran straight over to his kitchen the morning of his birthday and hasn't left it alone since. Research carried out in recent years has shown that pretend play helps to enhance cognitive flexibility and creativity which in turn helps exercise the brain and it's certainly done that.

We need imagination to visualise and understand different perspectives so the ability to use our imaginations is an important skill we need to take into adulthood so fine tuning this while young is ideal. 

If it means I get to make pretend pancakes and enjoy a leisurely brunch with my son on our living room floor then I'm more than happy to take part. 

I feel like I'm reliving my own childhood and it's really lovely. 

Another reason why pretend play is so important is because it encourages children to experiment with social and emotional roles helping them to discover who they are. It also helps them to learn to co-operate, become responsible and how to share. 

Pretend play is and should be a positive experience for all and some studies have shown that children who regularly take part in pretend play display more empathy which is never a bad thing. 

Being able to experiment with different scenarios just ignites a sense of freedom within play and that's something that should be encouraged. How many times have you sat there with your thoughts running away from you into a pretend land? I'm sure many of us have at one point or another, it's a safe and secure way to believe and play and who wouldn't want that?

In younger children Joshua's age, it's also a brilliant way to encourage talking. Joshua surprises us every day with the new words he comes out with and playing with his kitchen means he can talk to us about what he's cooking, what he wants us to help him with and what food he's using. 

Pancakes and bagels are our current go to for our pretend breakfast. 

I love sitting by him and handing him the different fruit and vegetables for him to tell me what they are. He's like a little sponge at the moment and it completely blows me away. 

Pretend play for us is a beautiful way to discover more about our son and have fun while doing it too. As much as I love curling up with my little friend to watch The Gruffalo, I love being able to expand his imagination with his kitchen too. 

Who knows, maybe one day he'll be a top chef! 

Great Little Trading Company have a wonderful selection of wooden toys that are ideal for encouraging pretend play. Just some of our favourites we have our eye on are the Wooden Till, Willow Toy Farm and the Fix It Tool Kit all of which would be perfect for Christmas. 

Wooden toys and pretend play has never been cuter than with GLTC!

The kitchen is a press sample - see disclaimer.
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