Does Your Child Care Provider Encourage Imaginative Play?

Children are known for having vivid imaginations that can make playtime fun and exciting. Imaginative play does more than just keep a child entertained. This type of play can have significant developmental benefits as well.

Children who engage in imaginative play often are more likely to develop language, critical thinking, and symbolic thinking skills. Each of these is a skill that can benefit a child throughout his or her life.

With many children spending time in child care facilities, it's important that you take the time to ensure that your child care provider is encouraging imaginative play on a regular basis.


One way that child care providers can promote imaginative play is through storytelling. It's important that children are active participants in storytelling, not just listeners. Children should be encouraged to share their own stories with the group or build upon the details provided by other students.

This type of interactive storytelling can help fire up your child's imagination and bolster creativity over time.

Dress Up and Role Play

Children usually like to dress up in costumes and pretend that they are someone else for a little while. Role-playing can be extremely beneficial in helping your child develop his or her critical thinking skills. Imagined scenarios that are fueled by dress up and role-play activities require that children solve problems.

Perhaps your child will need to figure out how to travel while playing an astronaut on the moon or where to live while playing an explorer in the jungle. Solving these fantasy problems can be a precursor to effectively solving real-life problems in the future. Ensure that your child care provider offers costumes and adequate time for role-playing.

Incorporate Stuffed Animals

The use of stuffed animals in imaginative play can offer valuable insight into your child's world. A child will often mirror the relationship dynamics that he or she is picking up on at home when interacting with a stuffed animal.

Monitoring this type of imaginative play can help your child care provider recognize social and relationship development problems that need to be addressed with your child. Stuffed animals can also act as a vehicle to help encourage kindness and empathy in your child.

Young children will learn how to care for others when pretending to treat a stuffed animal's injury. Responsibility can be developed when a child has to remember to feed or bathe their stuffed animal.

There should be access to stuffed animals in your child care provider's classroom so that your child can engage in developmental imaginative play using these toys. For more information, speak with your child care provider.