Imaginative Play with Rules

Vygotsky was one of the few researchers of his era to study dramatic play in children. He predicted that the ability of the under-5 crowd to engage in imaginative activities was going to be a better gauge of academic success than any other activity—including quantitative and verbal competencies. The reason, Vygotsky believed, was that such engagement allowed children to learn how to regulate their social behaviors. Hardly the carefree activity we think of in the United States, Vygotsky saw imaginative play as one of the most tightly restricting behaviors children experience. If little Sasha was going to be a chef, he would have to follow the rules, expectations, and limitations of “chef-ness”. If this imaginative exercise included friends, they would have to follow the rules, too. They might push and pull and argue with each other until they agreed on what those rules were and how they should be executed. That’s how self-control developed, he posited. In a group setting, such a task is extremely intellectually demanding, even for adults. If this sounds like a prelude to the more modern notion of executive function, you are right on the money. Vygotksy’s followers showed that children acting out imaginative scenes controlled their impulses much better than they did in non-MDP situations. While other parts of Vygotsky’s work are starting to show some intellectual arthritis, his ideas on self-regulation have held up well.


Adding rules to imaginative play gives children better self-control.

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 Brain Rules for Baby: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Zero to Five
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Medina , John (2010-10-12), Brain Rules for Baby: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Zero to Five, Pear Press, Retrieved on 2011-07-27
Folksonomies: parenting pregnancy babies child development