With both Mother’s and Father’s Day behind us, it’s nice to feel the love from our kids. Nothing shows that love more than when your kids say they want to be just like you when they grow up. Doctors, Chefs and Construction Workers had long been the main jobs toy makers focus on for pretend/role play. Stethoscopes, spatulas and screwdrivers had the market cornered. These days in the toy aisle, there is an endless display of other occupations or life paths reflecting for kids just what adults do all day.
Are you or your husband or wife a computer analyst? Well they have a plethora of laptop toys out for kids. What about a Veterinarian? A recent trip to the toy store the other day showed a whole shelf of animal doctor toys, clothes and more.
Letting kids use their imaginations in their play while mimicking their parents professions is a great way to teach them about the world around them—and that they will be expected one day to take a place in it as a responsible adult contributing to society. Talk to them about why you go to work every day. If you stay at home, you could get a toy vacuum cleaner and have them help you keep the house tidy, or a toy car and they can pretend they are driving around to all the activities you may do in a day.
Say you are a banker, hand them some play money and a cash register, you can also sneak in a bit of math as well. What about some things to pretend to be a teacher? They could make you the student and show off what they have learned in school. (Traditionally, kids have loved to play teacher because after parents, teachers become some of the most influential people in kids’ lives, and they naturally want to mimic that.) If you work in retail, you could have them set up a shop and sell things. An artist? Set up a “studio” where they can paint and display their artwork. You could even have a Gallery Opening for friends and family.
The options for dress-up and pretend play are endless. So many toys these days practically think for your child, it’s a nice break to have them use toys that bring out their creativity and imagination. In addition to imagination, though, what you’re providing is a context for your kids to understand the world and our culture in ways that are appropriate for their ages and abilities and to let them try on many different roles and experiment with who they may want to be when they get big like you. If that isn’t important play, I don’t know what is!