Observe the child in dramatic play, preferably of the child’s choosing. Household play or pretending to drive is usually popular.
The adult is a play partner in the dramatic play. During the play the adult can ask, “Is this … (food, car, etc.) real or pretend?” “How do you know?”
The child will identify that the play is pretend, but may not be able to explain. A simple explanation, “Can’t eat these peas.” Or “It’s not a real car!” tells you the child understands he is pretending something is real.
Dramatic play not only builds language and social skills; it also builds children’s awareness of their own imagination. Encourage early childhood educators and parents to talk about the children’s pretend play and encourage them to think for themselves. “What could we use for pretend food?” “What do you think should happen next?” Using the words, “pretend,” “think,” and “know” puts children in touch with their own thinking.
North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, 2015
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