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Child's Play: How Imaginative Play Benefits Your Child

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Posted: Sunday, November 10, 2013 10:00 pm | Updated: 1:31 am, Mon Nov 11, 2013.

(Family Features) Between the everyday obligations of school, sports and other extra-curricular activities, many children equate playtime with sitting in front of the television, computer or other electronic device.

This dependence on electronic devices can be linked to a list of issues, including childhood obesity, as well as reduced cognitive and muscle development. Children who instead engage in imaginative or pretend play are offered a stress-free environment where their dreams have no boundary. This type of activity just comes naturally for kids because it’s just plain fun.

Create a pretend play paradise

A make-believe-friendly setting begins with the parents. Here are a few ideas to create an environment that fosters creative, imaginative play for your little ones:

  • Focus on fun: A truly free setting for imaginative play is one without structure or rules. Let your child know there are no expectations or wrong outcomes while they are pretending. There may be moments where you have to intervene, but the atmosphere should be relaxed and free from rules.
  • Give toys that encourage pretend play: Make sure your kids have toys that allow them to express themselves. The Calico Critters toy line is the ideal choice for parents seeking timeless, classic toys that delight children and promote wholesome values through pretend play. Children will love these adorable, high-quality miniature animal figures, which include families of rabbits, dogs, cats, bears and more. For more information, visit www.calicocritters.com.
  • Read to your children: The benefits of children who are regularly read to are immense, from enhanced bonding between parent and child to better test scores. So, begin the reading ritual as early as you can. You will find your child will love and look forward to sharing this healthy activity with you.
  • Play along: Young children mimic everything their parents do, so be a model of imaginative play for them. Go ahead and act silly — dress up with them, act out puppet shows or build forts with bed sheets. Calico Critters, with its imaginative collection of families, homes and accessories is perfect for “Mommy & Me” playtime. You may be surprised by how much enjoyment you get out of it.
  • Create a fantasy prop box: Fill a box with various trinkets found throughout your home for kids to create their own forts, homes, businesses or simply a rousing game of dress-up. Just make sure to pick items that are safe and you won’t miss if they are lost or damaged from heavy play.
  • Plan open-ended activities: Instead of starting an art project with a finished model for them to create, plan free painting or crafting sessions with your kids. This will allow your children to fully express themselves any way they desire. Just make sure you have plenty of fun supplies on hand, such as glitter, paper, glue, markers, boxes, feathers, sequins or any other trinkets you have on hand.

By creating an atmosphere open to imaginative play, your child will be open to new worlds and have tons of fun while exploring them.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

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Should graduations return to the Grape Bowl?

Lodi Unified leaders are moving Lodi and Tokay high school graduations from the Grape Bowl to the Spanos Center at UOP in Stockton. They cite limited seating, costs and unpredictable weather at the Grape Bowl. But others say graduations at the Grape Bowl are an important Lodi tradition, and one reason many supported renovating the stadium. What do you think?

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