Remember the days of turning a large cardboard box into a car, or running around the park pretending you were a superhero with your friends? Well turns out that wasn't just pretend play...it was science! We often take this place for granted, when in reality children are learning through pretend play.
In a recent article in Smithsonian Magazine they highlight a new study by the University of California Berkeley that looks into play and how young children can learn so much, so quickly. It turns out that pretend play is what philosophers call "conterfactual" thinking. Children who are better at pretending can reason better about counterfactuals and are better at thinking about different possibilities. As the author in Smithsonian says, "The idea is that children at play are like pint-sized scientists testing theories. They imagine ways the world could work and predict the pattern of data that would follow if their theories were true, and then compare that pattern with the pattern they actually see. Even toddlers turn out to be smarter than we would have thought if we ask them the right questions in the right way."
So the next time you hear a little one claim to be chasing monsters, or ruling a kingdom from a castle, sit back and marvel, as this is the crucial part of what makes all humans so smart!