Prepare Your Toddler for Preschool

Playing Pretend

BRAIN-BOOSTING ACTIVITY : Playing Pretend

Around 18 months, your child will likely begin to playact, by holding a banana to his ear and talking into it like a phone, for example, or by cradling a doll in his arms and rocking it. This is a major intellectual trans-formation, says Jan Drucker, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Sarah Lawrence College, in Bronxville, New York. It signals that your child is now able to think hypothetically (e.g., if I were a daddy, this is how I would act with my baby), which is the basis of all abstract thinking, whether it's creative or mathematical, Dr. Drucker explains. So how to encourage your kid? Just let him take the lead, and be ready and willing to participate. "You don't have to entertain, instruct, or create a scenario," Dr. Drucker says. By doing what interests your child, you'll help him internalize the message that he's important -- and that the things he's discovering and learning are exciting and important too. Ultimately, this confidence-boosting lesson will help your child become a successful and happy learner.

Originally published in the September 2011 issue of Parents magazine.

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