Pretend Play: Investing in a good Playhouse and it’s benefits on child development.

Author: Gauri Kshirsagar

“Systematic research has increasingly demonstrated a series of clear benefits of children’s engagement in pretend games from the ages of about two and one half through ages six or seven.”

Dr. Scott Kaufman – 2012 Psychology Today article

As children’s time is taken up more and more with scheduled activities, it is important to consider what they are losing when they miss out on pretend play. In many ways, a few hours creating pretend ponies and galloping around the yard with fellow cowboys and cowgirls is as developmentally essential as any other pursuit. In today’s video game age, however, children are not getting the same opportunity that their parents had to engage in this freeform style of play. Children’s play houses are a great way to encourage children to take part in make-believe or imaginative play, allowing them to reap the child development benefits.

A beautiful Playhouse for more then one kids, made out of sturdy metal rods and cotton canopy.

Ask any child psychologist and they will tell you that a child needs to have their own personal space in their home, a sanctuary if you will, and a place that they can call their own. If you have several children and they are sharing bedrooms this becomes even more important. Thus, one of the best things that you can do for them, especially the younger ones, is to give them some type of Playhouse.

A playhouse can do just that by giving them a space that is completely theirs and has a door on it that they can ‘close’ to the outside world. This will be their ‘retreat’ and give them a place to go when they need quiet time or want to enter into their own little world, even if it’s only to take a nap. Giving them the freedom to do this at any time they please will boost their self-esteem greatly and assure them that they always have a place where they can go and be in control.

Indoor/Outdoor Kid’s camping tent

We are now on our 5th Play house. We have had outdoor tents, cardboard box house and playhouse in different sizes and colours. Not only are playhouses excellent retreats but they are also a place where your child’s imagination can be let free and where their creativity can take flight. Once they organise their playhouse they will suddenly become the king or queen of their own kingdom or anything or anyone else they might imagine themselves being. This imagination and creation time is invaluable to their growth as human beings.

No matter what type of play house you choose, whether it’s a bed with a playhouse beneath or something made from plastic or cardboard that stands on its own, the benefit that your child will receive from having one is immeasurable.

Our Playhouse made out of cardboard boxes.

A child’s pretend play in classrooms or at home is often considered fun and imaginative, but with limited educational value. The truth is, in the midst of creating a restaurant together, clomping around in grown-up shoes, or twirling around with friends in a fairytale land, children are learning to solve problems, coordinate, cooperate, and think flexibly. Imagine the skills required to turn the sandbox into a dinosaur bone excavation site!

A Playhouse made out of cardboard boxes

How Pretend play help Children learn.

Pretending is important in child development. Through pretend play: Children learn about themselves and the world. Dramatic play experiences are some of the first ways children learn about their likes and dislikes, their interests, and their abilities. They experiment with role playing and work to make sense out of what they’ve observed. Just watch children playing with dolls to see examples of this. Dolls often become versions of the child himself and are a safe way for children to express new ideas and feelings.

A smaller playhouse for smaller areas

Children work out confusing, scary, or new life issues. Have you ever witnessed children pretending to visit the doctor? One child dutifully holds the mock stethoscope as the others line up for a check-up. More often than not someone gets ‘shots’. This is a child’s way of exploring an experience that is common and sometimes confusing or scary. Through these role plays, children become more comfortable and prepared for life events in a safe way. Children often use pretend play to work out more personal challenging life events too, whether it is coping with an illness in the family, the absence of a parent or divorce, or a house fire.

Children develop important complex social and higher order thinking skills. Pretend play is much more than simple play activities; it requires advanced thinking strategies, communication, and social skills. Through pretend play, children learn to do things like negotiate, consider others’ perspectives, transfer knowledge from one situation to another, delay gratification, balance their own ideas with others, develop a plan and act on it, explore symbolism, express and listen to thoughts and ideas, assign tasks and roles, and synthesize different information and ideas. In this creative play description, we could just as easily be describing the skills needed to successfully manage a work project for an adult as describing children’s pretend play.

Children cultivate social and emotional intelligence. How we interact with others is key to our lifelong success and happiness. Knowing how to read social cues, recognize and regulate emotions, negotiate and take turns, and engage in a long-term activity that is mutually beneficial are no easy tasks. There is no substitute for creative and imaginative play when it comes to teaching and enhancing these abilities in children.

Children synthesize knowledge and skills. Because learning and child development doesn’t happen in discrete pockets of time or during isolated activities, children need opportunities to blend their skills and knowledge together. Pretend play is an ideal way to do this. Think of children playing ‘grocery’ store. They sort by attributes as they group similar foods in sections of the store, use math concepts to tabulate amounts as they determine prices and calculate grocery bills, use writing to communicate by making signs, experiment with shapes and weights as they organize the store, work collaboratively as they assign roles and play together, and much more.

How Do Children’s Playhouses Help?

Children’s playhouses act like a blank canvas on which your child can start developing their make believe scenarios. They can play house, school or market—role playing in a variety of settings and situations—whatever their imagination can come up with. A play house provides them with a starting point and structural foundation that they can build on.

What Are the Long-term Benefits of Children’s Play Houses?

Research shows that pre-schoolers who spend more time in imaginative make-believe play tend to develop faster more in intellectually. They are able to concentrate for longer periods of time and strengthens the memory.

A cosy reading nook

The social training they receive during make believe play also gives them better social competency and logical reasoning skills. Children who engage in make believe at a young age also grow to have stronger creativity skills and better literacy skills.

While a play house may seem like a nice way to treat your children to a space of their own, the real benefit is the long-term results in improved intellect and social skills your child receives.

So next time you see your children engaged in pretend play, don’t rush them to homework, cleaning their room, or piano practice. Allow time for them to build a rocket ship from chairs and blankets and pretend they’re astronauts; it’s time well spent. You might consider crafting a space helmet from foil and a bowl and joining in!

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