Representational Play refers to pretend play which emerges when a child begins to use familiar objects in appropriate ways to represent their world, an example is a cooking gas toy where a food is being cooked.
This kind of play begins to occur between 12- to 21-months of age.
Representational play, also known as symbolic play, is a type of play in which children use objects, actions, and language to represent other objects or actions. This type of play is thought to be an important part of cognitive development, as it involves the use of mental representations to understand and interact with the world.
Examples of representational play include:
Pretend play: Children may use dolls, action figures, or stuffed animals to act out stories and scenarios that involve imaginary characters and events. They may also pretend to be different characters themselves, using costumes and props to enhance their play.
Object substitution: Children may use one object to represent another, such as using a block to represent a car or a piece of paper to represent a phone.
Social play: Children may engage in play that involves social roles, such as playing house or school, in which they take on the roles of different people and interact with each other in a symbolic way.
Fantasy play: Children may engage in play that involves imaginary scenarios and events, such as pretending to be superheroes or going on adventures in imaginary worlds.
Representational play is thought to be important for several reasons. It allows children to explore different concepts and ideas in a safe and controlled environment, and it also helps them to develop their social and communication skills. Through play, children learn to share ideas, negotiate, and collaborate with others, which are important skills for success in later life.
Researchers have also suggested that representational play is linked to various aspects of cognitive development, including language acquisition, spatial reasoning, and problem-solving. For example, children who engage in more complex and varied forms of representational play have been found to have better language skills and a more advanced understanding of spatial concepts.