What Parents Need To Know About Early Childhood Education And Imaginative Play

Posted on: 26 September 2022


What is imaginative play? Whether your preschooler is new to daycare or this is their second or third year in an early childhood education program, you want to know more about what happens during the school day—and this includes imaginative play activities. Take a look at what parents need to know about imagination-based explorations in the early childhood education classroom and how this type of activity can help your young student.

Imaginative Play Defined

It's all in the name. Imaginative play is exactly what it sounds like—a type of play that requires the child to use their imagination. This type of creative activity encourages young children to dream up scenarios, pretend they are other people, animals, or other characters, and act out scenes from real-life, books, movies, and more. 

The Benefits of Imaginative Play

Imaginative play is more than just fun. While your child will enjoy dramatic activities, they will also benefit (developmentally) from these pretend play explorations in the early childhood classroom. According to a 2018 review published in the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) journal Pediatrics, pretend play can help young children to experiment with social roles, encourage language use/communication, and understand rules or norms. 

Along with these benefits, imaginative play provides a safe space for children to express or explore their own feelings, build cognitive skills (such as attention/focus and memory), and develop physical or motor abilities. 

Imaginative Play in the Daycare Classroom

What does imaginative or pretend play look like in the early childhood classroom? There isn't one standard answer to this question. Imaginative play activities (also known as pretend play and dramatic play) include a wide variety of options, such as:

  • Story-time pretend play sessions. The children may act out roles from storybooks that the teacher reads. This could include impromptu dramatic activities or organized events (such as a play that the class puts on for the rest of the school).

  • Play kitchen scenes. Some early childhood classrooms have real-world pretend play set-ups. The play kitchen is a popular activity for children in the preschool years. This gives them the chance to learn about practical activities and more.

  • Toy-based imaginative play. Preschoolers may act out scenes using their toys as the main characters. This includes anything from a pretend play school with dolls or stuffed animal students to talking cars and trains that race around the room.

While these are popular examples of pretend play in the preschool or daycare classroom, story-time, play kitchen, and toy play aren't the only ways your child will use their imagination. Talk to the teacher to learn more about imaginative play in your child's daycare room.