The Early Years Foundation Stage guidelines advocates pretend play in several of its areas and for differing age groups. EYFS is followed by all nurseries, infant schools and child minders but as parents we can also support it. EYFS first identifies the benefits of pretend play in the 22-36 month old age category in the section ‘Expressive arts and design: being imaginative’ where it states children are beginning to make believe by pretending. In the section ‘Understanding the world: people and communities’ it suggests that pretend play imitates every day activities and events from own family and cultural backgrounds. Children aged 30-50 months should also be encouraged in the ‘‘Expressive arts and design: being imaginative’ category to use props to support role play and engage in imaginative role play based on first hand experiences. Also that children notice what adults do, imitating what they observe and then doing it spontaneously when the adult is not there[iii].
In 2002 Azar stated that “having a good imagination translates into more creativity as an adult”[iv], so the benefits of pretend play are life long and the effects of pretend play (and story-telling) have a positive effect on “cognitive processes, short-term and long-term narrative recall”[v].
The EYFS begins to identify pretend play as beneficial from 22 months and research has shown that it begins to develop naturally “towards the middle of the first year”[vi], with the majority (85%) of observed infants beginning to engage in pretend play activity at 18months. It is now also agreed that pretend play follows a predictable pattern from infancy to preschool[vii].
Therefore I hope the fact that we have a mini collection of all styles of slings we stock in the main adult library can help encourage and foster not only the next generation of babywearers; but by allowing them to mimic mum and dad we are also helping their cognitive, social and emotional development for now and the future.
[i] Singer and Singer (2005) ‘Imagination and Play in the Electronic Age’, Harvard University Press
[ii] Blackwell Handbook of Childhood Development (2002), ed K Smith and H Hart, p. 419
[iii] Early Years Foundation Stage Statutory Framework March 2012
[iv] B. Azar, “The Power of Pretending” (2002),Monitor on Psychology, Vol 33:3, p. 46
[v] S. Kim. “The effects of storytelling and pretend play on cognitive processes, short term and long term narrative recall”, Child Study Journal, Vol 29:3
[vi] Nielsen, M and Dissanayake, C (2004), “Pretend play, mirror self-recognition and imitation: a longitudinal investigation through the second year”, Infant and Behaviour and Development
[vii] K Smith and H. Hart eds p. 420