child playing dress upIt’s Halloween! In many parts of the world, this means dressing up in costumes and pretending to be a cowboy, ninja, ballet dancer, or even a cowboy ninja ballet dancer. (Hey, it could happen!) While the stores—and Pinterest—overflow with costume options for children this time of year, truth be told, children love dressing up and pretending all year long. And they should! It’s good for them.

Pretend play develops imagination, creativity, social skills, and language

Imitation is the first stage of pretend play and begins as an infant when a baby mimics an adult’s facial expressions. As children grow and imitation evolves, pretend play becomes more imaginative. Children use pretend play to re-examine life experiences by adding or changing what actually happened. Pretend play lets children try out their ideas and solve problems as they create characters and “rules” in their imaginary world.

During pretend play activities, social interaction between children—and participating adults—is usually characterized by a heightened use of action and language, helping to develop children’s language and social skills. In addition, pretend play helps children learn the difference between reality and fantasy, and even experience emotional support from parents as they pretend along with kids.

So, don’t put up those Halloween costumes on November 1. Keep them out all year round. After all, you never know when you might need a cowboy ninja ballet dancer to come save the day.

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Contributed by Lisa Camino Rowell, a freelance writer in the Atlanta area.


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