Pretend play is a natural and fun way for children to learn!  Imaginative play teaches social skills and problem solving.  Children are learning about themselves and their environment when they engaging in pretend play roles.  Parents will see socio-dramatic play (fantasy play that includes other people) starting around 3 years old and older.  It is at this point children start to include more complex ideas and specific role playing in their play.  It’s also the point where parents will constantly hear “Will you play with me?” from our little creative kiddos. 

At our house, we are at the height of creative play.  Our daughter is constantly reenacting and making up scenarios for herself and her toys.  And of course, she is always eager to have another play companion.  I really enjoy this age (she’s 5) because it’s so amazing to me all the things she’s learned and her ability to generate ideas and interact with the world.  It’s delightful to observe her creativity. 

“Socio-dramatic play is the most advanced form of symbolic play and requires the use of imagination to carry out their roles. Children learn skills in negotiation, listening, sharing, taking turns, and respecting others’ feelings, thoughts, ideas, and physical space through socio-dramatic play.”   

“Children’s ability to engage in dramatic play is encouraged with toys that have more than one purpose, such as building blocks, containers, tools, costumes, and other props. Costumes and themed settings, such as play houses and play grocery stores, set the stage for dramatic play.”

Above quoted text from:  http://www.playgroundprofessionals.com/encyclopedia/s/symbolic-play