I love playing pretend. Even at thirty-two. I am way into it. And so are my boys. I am making them do it. Forcing them. Not really. But if they didn’t like it as much as I did, I would.
My kids are really really good at it. (They are really good at everything. I am their mother and they are perfect. I know. Because I am their mother.) But in all seriousness, they ARE really good at it. They love being cowboys and chefs. They don’t just love playing football, they are Jake making runs for the Nighthawks. They aren’t just pushing pigs around the floor, they are showing them at the Iowa State Fair. Naturally.
To be fair, they are not just naturally talented at creating awesome play schemes. They are being provided with the tools! They have costumes and toys that make playing pretend easy! And even when they don’t have the costumes and tools, they make things up! An empty Rubbermaid becomes a boat, a spatula becomes a fishing pole, and we are deep sea fishing in no time!
Playing pretend isn’t just fun, it is also a developmental skill. They are learning through play. They are learning vocabulary words such as “hoop” and “shot” as well as “chop” and “stir.” They are learning how to cooperate. Hank is the chef making his cowboy customer the world’s finest hot dogs. And Gus is a patiently waiting cowboy, because making the world’s finest hot dogs takes time.
Although we are quite sure the best way to teach our children is through flashcards and alphabet apps, the real deal is, they learn best through play. You want to work on counting? Count the cars going into the garage. You want to work on categories? The balls go in one bin and the blocks go in the other. You want to make it even more fun? Throw in a costume. Things get awesomely weird at our house when a costume gets thrown in. And let’s get serious…what is more adorably hilarious than a kid in a costume? Yeah, I can’t think of anything either.