By Katarina Vassakou, Family Support Worker
M.: This is Elvis, and this one over here is Tom Thomas.
K.: What does Elvis want to do? Is he doing the same job as Tom Thomas?
M.: No! Elvis is going to put out the fire, he is a firefighter. Tom Thomas is a police officer, he is going to be sitting here! (Points the driving seat of the fire track).
The fire, made by yellow and orange tissue paper, is approaching one home. It is made by a big ball of crumpled paper, and moves up and down, left and right, because of the wind.
M.: Hot! Hot! (He says while Elvis is stepping on the fire). Elvis wants to go inside the house to save the people. You take Tom Thomas and put him on the ladder.
K.: Oh! A helicopter coming (scissors are used for this)! Maybe they could use the helicopter to pour as much water as they can on top of the house.
M.: Yes! And then they can go to sleep because it’s night time.
K.: The fire is almost gone, disappeared (the ball of crumpled paper is now under the table) – they made it!
M.: Elvis and Tom Thomas are going to sleep (uses both hands and pretends to sleep on the table). Now I want to go outside in the garden. I want to play ice-cream shopkeeper…
The value of pretending and of make-believe play seems less obvious. Many parents are not very comfortable when they watch their toddlers playing with their blocks or toys while talking out loud to themselves. Jean Piaget (1962) wrote that symbolic play is not just a passing feature of growth for the development of logical thought. Piaget noted that this is an intrinsic characteristic of our human nature. Pretend play serves our children well for their self-entertainment and for understanding the complexities of the world. Most importantly, it is the foundation of a long-term human characteristic: imagination. We can travel mentally through time and space, to explore a range of possible futures.
Mums and Dads, you have no reason to fear pretend play in your children! This play benefits all areas of your child’s development including their ability to express and regulate their emotions, their creativity and logical reasoning. Join in with your children’s pretend play, help them guide their storyline, and allow them to expand their knowledge of the world around them by playing “Let’s pretend to be’’.