We know that children playing with their peers is important for development in children, but what about specifically fantasy play? According to a recent study reported on by Science Daily, fantasy play could have a large role in creative thinking development in children. While it may be make believe, the effects could be very real and very beneficial.
Research on playing pretend & mental development in children
The study was conducted by researchers from Oxford Brookes University and published in The British Psychological Society. The study included 70 children between the ages of 4 to 8 years old.
The lead researcher, Dr. Louise Bunce, stated:
“A growing body of research is investigating the influence of children engaging in fantasy on their development. We wanted to test whether children who engage in fantasy play are more creative. This is because, theoretically, playing in make-believe worlds requires imagination to conceive of the world differently to its current reality, which is also necessary to think creatively.”
The participants performed three different tasks labeled “creative.” First, they had to think of as many red things as they could; second, they had to think of all the different ways you could move from one point in a room to another point; third, they had to draw an imaginary person and a real person.
As researchers assumed, children who engaged in more “pretend” play had a higher level of creativity in all tasks.
Why this is important
Creativity is a helpful and fantastic characteristic to have. It helps you think outside the box in tight situations. It helps you work through future problems and obstacles with greater flexibility. For many jobs, it’s almost required. Creativity is something that can be used to inspire healthy development in children–which makes it incredibly important.
While the researchers believe more studies need to be conducted to figure out all the connections and causes of creativity in children, Dr Bunce said, “None the less, these results provide encouraging evidence for parents and teachers who could consider encouraging children to engage in fantasy play as one way to develop their creative thinking skills.”
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