A mum recently asked how to explain ‘pretend’ and ‘real’ to her son.
There are a few ways to do this. Sorting toy and ‘real’ items into piles may be the easiest start, as Anna McLeod at Release Communication advises.
Comparing toy and ‘real’ animals side-by-side is another way to explain ‘pretend’ and ‘real’. If there are real animals in your child’s life, show them the toy (‘pretend’) version beside the ‘real’ version.
Most shops with toys stock sets of small plastic toy animals. Try taking a few small toy farm animals to a farm (or the zoo) where kids can meet animals. This also works at home with dogs / cats / goldfish / hamsters in your life.
Pretend play is important for developing childrens’ imaginations and lets adults better understand their childrens’ personalities.
Doctor / Vet – Pick up a toy medical kit at the euro shop and add some real bandages. A stethoscope can be made from old headphones with a bottletop on the end. An clear plastic biro can be a thermometer or syringe. Patients can be yourself, a friend/sibling or your child’s stuffed animals.
Camping – Drape a blanket or sheet over a table or some chairs. Then fetch some pillows & bedding. Take a flashlight and some marshmallows into the tent and read, or tell stories (sit at the “door” for light if your child lipreads).
Tea-Party – An old favourite. Can be played with, or without a tea-set.
Office – Put an old phone, keyboard, paper, pencils and office items on a small table and role-play being in an office (borrow a briefcase if it helps!)
Grocery Shop – Find some paper bags and toy money (try the euro shop). Set out a “shop” with cans & bags of dried food and buy with the toy money.
Once your child “gets” ‘pretend’ and ‘real’, you can then teach ‘it’s a game’!