Some children just love to copy their parents as they go about their daily lives whether that is doing household chores, gardening, motoring and even DIY.
We can’t stop children doing this, nor should we, but is it good for them to actively encourage them to role play with toys? What benefit do they get from this type of play whether learning to cook or make coffee, go shopping or drive a car? Children learn by copying and by exploring the unknown world and all that it contains.
They see parents drive a car and they want to do it too, they want to know what it’s like and although the reality is not possible the imagination of what it is like is there with the help of a toy. One of my son’s favourite toys as he grew from toddler to young boy was a steering wheel that fixed to the back of the front seat with a suction pad, from memory, I believe it even had a gear stick attached. I know that he had many hours of pleasure from his pretend driving and made journeys in the car a lot less stressful for both of us.
There are some that would say to have toy domestic items such as ironing boards, hoovers, pots and pans, tools, lawn mowers etc. To be honest I personally do not see any problems with this as long as it is not directed at just girls, after all we all need to be able to have these skills in adult life.
Role playing by young children can inspire and grow their imaginations. It also helps them to interact with other children and help build the skills they need as they grow to adults. It allows them to be able to question why things have to be done or not done, explore their own personalities of what they like to do and who with. Learning social skills is such an important skill to have.
Adults included in the play can be a great help if a child finds it difficult to play, not all children have the skill of playing in the beginning. Helping mummy or daddy cook with plastic pots and pans, having a phone conversation on a toy phone can help not only with imagination but with vocabulary and expressions, both good, to be encouraged and bad to be discouraged. Helping in the garden with their own gardening tools can teach a young child about so many things.
I feel that it is important for children to play in this way to understand the world that they are living in and to be able to understand, socialise and ultimately be comfortable and knowledgeable within it.