A child's right brain develops first, usually by the age of 3-4! The left brain, which is responsible for language, analysis, and time, and is often more concerned with the outcome rather than the process, doesn't fully come into the picture until the age of 7. This might help explain why young children are more creative, imaginative, empathetic, and down right hard to reason with!
How does imaginative play help my child's brain develop?
Dr. Stephanie Carlson and colleagues from the Institute of Child Development conducted an experiment to learn more about pretend play and the ways in which a child's imagination can benefit their development. During the study, the researchers gave 4 year old children a toy in a locked, glass box with a set of keys to try to open it. However, none of the keys worked! The 4 year old's were provided a choice of either continuing to try to open the box or dressing up as Batman or Dora the Explorer to continue the task. The results showed that children who got to make-believe showed more flexible thinking, spent more time on the challenge, and were more calm, composed and focused!
Here are a few additional benefits of imaginative play:
- Improves academic skills
- Improves emotional competence
- Helps children express and explore feelings
- Improves concentration and focus
- Reduces anxiety
How can I better support my child's play?
1. Follow your child's lead. Learning the names of their favorite Paw Patrol characters or stuffed animals goes a long way!
2. Get down on their level. Children appreciate when adults get down on the floor with them as it mimics their body language and helps them feel a sense of connection and security.
3. Ask open ended questions, but try not to interrupt their flow by asking too many questions!
Note: This information is meant for educational purposes only. Always reach out to your pediatrician, physical or occupational therapist with specific questions and concerns about your child’s development.