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While spending more time cooped up indoors during the pandemic, you may have noticed your kids are using their imaginations more. If their fun involves superhero play, you have reason to celebrate – experts say it can benefit children in substantial ways.  

 That’s why it’s important for kids to have imaginative playtime every day, according to The Genius of Play, a nonprofit initiative whose mission is to educate parents and caregivers about the benefits of play and to inspire families to play more 

Here are just some of the things they can learn by pretending to be Batman, Wonder Woman or the Black Panther: 

Symbolism  

Whether it’s a banana that becomes a phone or a towel being used as a cape, grasping symbolism in the world of play can pave the way for children to better recognize that each letter of the alphabet represents a sound. Encourage kids to use everyday objects and toys around them to build a world of creativity and fun. 

Leadership 

From a very young age, playtime experiences can have a major impact on the development of children’s leadership skills. In the case of superhero play, the act of taking on a powerful persona offers kids an opportunity to assert themselves and gain self-confidence, while creatively constructing their own storylines.  

Perseverance 

A 2016 study published in Child Development about the “Batman Effect” found that kids stay better focused on a task when they are pretending to be their favourite superheroes or characters. Through play, you can encourage your children to channel the bravery and perseverance of the superheroes they admire most, giving them the emotional tools needed to thrive in a challenging world. 

Emotion management  

Roleplaying also offers children the opportunity to channel frustration, anger, fear and triumph into the worlds, characters and storylines they create, learning to manage these emotions in healthy ways. 

Physical activity  

Movement helps children hone their coordination, balance and motor skills. Associating exercise with fun can set a precedent for a lifelong habit. 

Find play ideas, expert advice and other play resources at thegeniusofplay.org. 

—NC

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