The emergence of symbolic play in toddlers marks a milestone in their journey as learners.
Symbolic play usually can be observed during the beginning of the second year of life. It is of particular interest because its appearance demonstrates that the child has developed the capacity to substitute one object for another. The child can hold onto a mental picture of something and recreate it in his own mind and in his own way. Because of this the child's play begins to include pretend roles, imagined scenes and symbolic manipulation of objects and language.
Symbolic play has been linked to emotional and cognitive problem solving, creative abilities, and emotional well-being but most importantly, this early use of symbols ultimately prepares the child for the abstract symbols of reading and writing.