Monday, April 30, 2012

The imagination milestone

I have no way of knowing if every mom is as aware of milestones as moms of special needs kiddos.  I know most moms of infants watch for that first smile, first step, first word but after the two years when the major milestones pass do they still watch everything their toddler does looking for things listed in books as developmental milestones?  I'd guess most don't but when you've spent the first two years working hard for every milestone from walking to pincher grasp to two word phrases I'm not sure you can ever stop watching.  Of course now Cate's milestones are all related to school so it is not just me watching - sounding out out words, writing her full name, sight words - etc. 

When Cate was little I found out about one milestone I never knew was important - pretend play.  I'm sure there is some book out there that tells you how important pretend play is for a child's development but I missed that one.  When Cate was about two years old we had a PT session at our home and the therapist saw her pretending some blocks were food in the play kitchen.  She asked me if she did that often.  When I said she did it all the time the PT told me how awesome it was she was doing pretend play.  I was caught by surprise, it never occurred to me that pretending a block was cake or a shoe was a phone was important stuff.  But when you think about it you can see how much cognitive development is required to take one object imagine it in another form then build a play scenario around it.  Then its not a big leap to see how great a milestone pretend play is because how hard must it be to teach that in therapy? 

The reason I went off on this little trip down memory lane is that ever since that day, I have been very aware of Cate's pretend play and kept a close watch on how it is developing.  Last week I saw another jump in that development.  Cate had to come to work with me the day of her dentist appointment at 6:30 am.  I'm lucky enough to work in an office where there are lots of things for a kid to do - we have two dogs that live here and are friendly as well as a playroom.  But since it was so early and I really needed to work at my desk, I decided to make Cate play in my office.  So I borrowed a blanket and a game of Connect Four from the back and set her up on the floor by my desk.  She loves to move blocks or checkers from one place to another so Connect Four was something I figured she'd play with for at least 15 or 20 minutes.  I set up the game thing that your drop the checkers into and showed her how to release them from the bottom.  She sat here and played with that game for over an hour.  She pretended to be playing the game, she pretended the chips were money, she made towers, she grouped them, she chatted with her "class" as she taught some lesson involving lines, and then she made patterns.  I even heard her say "I'm making a pattern like ABBA".  And when I looked at her, I saw a line of checkers red - black - black - red - black - black -red.  I recognize how great this is - she is internalizing the lessons she is learning in kindergarten and incorporating them into her pretend play.  GO CATE!!!

1 comment:

  1. Fascinating post!! I love seeing how young minds grow and develop, and love hearing how Cate is doing, since she and Sammi are in the same grade, and seem to be doing so many of the same things at the same time. I remember hearing about pretend play when Sammi was younger, and know that she'd picked it up pretty early, too, but now I totally can't remember what her first foray into pretend play was. She still surprises me with things she does along those lines.