Adult Roles in Cognitive Play
Knowledge of emerging cognitive development can also provide guidelines for supporting infant and toddler play. Wilson (1990) outlined Piagetian substages of development with toys and materials and caregiver strategies that facilitate cognitive play.
Adults also have a role in encouraging pretend play. Although not all mothers actively engage in pretend play, they can have an indirect role. Parents who provide opportunities for play and engage in discussion and storytelling provide an environment and structure for pretend play. They can nurture pretend play by providing toys and materials that facilitate pretending (Garner, 1998).
Infant attachment to significant adults indirectly affects pretend play. Infants and toddlers who are securely attached are more likely to engage in peer interactions and engage in more complex and sustained symbolic play (Pepler & Ross, 1981).
Sibling play encourages pretend play. In an investigation of pretend play with a mother and with an older sibling, more pretend relationships were found between the infant and a sibling than with the infant and the mother. The infants also engaged in more role play with the older sibling than with the mother (Youngblade & Dunn, 1995).
At the end of the second year, the toddler is combining play with objects, symbolic play, and emerging language skills to enrich play episodes.
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