Fantasy-based pretend play

“Viking – Shield Maiden” by Danielle Pioli is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0

From an article…

The study involved daily 15-minute play sessions across five weeks, in which a research assistant led 39 children aged three to five through a fantastical script, such as going to the moon. After the five week period, the pretend play kids showed greater gains in their ability to memorise lists of digits (a classic test of working memory, itself a core component of executive function) as compared with 32 age-matched children in a standard play condition, who spent their sessions singing songs and passing a ball around a circle.

The pretend play group also showed a bigger improvement on an executive function attention-shift task, which involved switching from sorting blocks by colour to shape. This result squeaked through thanks to the standard-play group’s scores actually creeping down over time as the pretend group scores crept up, but note that on its own terms, the pre-to-post change in pretend group performance wasn’t itself statistically significant. On a third executive function measure – “inhibition of responses” (children had to follow a tricky instruction to label a nighttime scene as day, and a daytime scene as night) – there was no effect of the pretend play.

Fantasy-based pretend play is beneficial to children’s mental abilities. Research Digest, the British Psychological Society

I am enjoying this playful period where Fleur tells me stories. Getting more into this kind of play excites me. It is what I remember doing a lot of as a child. And even as a teenager, I played a lot of Dungeons & Dragons, even being a Dungeon Master most of the time for one group of friends.

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