Imaginary play is a natural and essential aspect of early development as children play on their own or work together as a group. In an action research project on 'Play in the Sandpit', Jarrett et al. (2011) suggested that this form of play has social and cognitive benifits and refers to Piaget's play levels that identify a degree of "mental complexity" as children learn important concepts such as science and math principles.
In "The Need for Pretend Play in Child Development", Kaufman (2012) suggests that imaginative play is a vital component to the normal development of a child. He also states that an important benefit of pretend play, "may be its enhancement of the child’s capacity for cognitive flexibilityand, ultimately, creativity."
As an early childhood teacher I see imaginative play all around me on a daily basis and have to agree that it is an essential ingredient for early development as children make connecting links to the world around them through their play.
That is why it is so important that children are in an environment where their teachers are positive role models around them. In this context it is valuable if there is a gender balance of both male and female teachers and I will surely cover that area in further musings.