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The symbolic game. How it benefits children

The symbolic game. How it benefits children


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Symbolic play is essential for the cognitive and emotional development of any child. The imitation game, the role play, the pretend play, is the quintessential childhood game. It is the one that dominates a large part of the games in the first years of our children.

Parents must facilitate symbolic play and encourage its development by allowing that our children recreate different situations and characters spontaneously or directed by an adult.

The symbolic game is all that spontaneous game, that arises naturally at home, in the park or at school, in which children use their mental representation skills to recreate an entire play scene. Through this type of symbolization we can observe how they turn a broom into a horse or a stick into a magic wand. It is that type of game in which children pretend they were dads, moms or other real or imaginary people or characters.

Symbolic play allows the exteriorization of behaviors learned through observation but also stimulates the learning of new. It also facilitates the expression of feelings and the activation of socio-emotional skills and competences, which provides great benefits in the maturation process of children.

The benefits of symbolic play are observed in all levels of child development, from psychomotor skills to the expression of emotions, encouraging and stimulating a whole range of personal and social skills in children while improving their language skills. Thus, symbolic play stimulates the development of children's physical, mental, affective and social functions as:

1. Encourage imagination and creativity.

2. Encourage the learning of new behaviors.

3. Promotes the acquisition of social skills and competencies such as teamwork, cooperation, negotiation, and empathy.

4. Allows the acquisition of new vocabulary.

5. Releases tension and helps to express feelings and emotions. By playing to be children they can express their fears, anguish, anger or sadness in an appropriate way without fear of being reprimanded by anyone.

6. Facilitates the knowledge of their own physical possibilities by developing their motor skills and control of their body.

7. Facilitates knowledge of the environment that surrounds them and the way things work.

8. Promotes self-esteem and self-control, provides self-confidence.

9. Stimulates curiosity, the engine of any learning.

10. Helps structure thinking.

'A child who does not play will be an adult who does not think'(Shchiller)

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