Young children need to spend more, not less, time playing--especially make-believe (dramatic) play. In fact, pretend play actually helps children meet academic standards, and is critical for the development of self-regulation, symbolic thinking and creativity.
Children develop a wide range of skills when, through their play, they experiment with varied ideas, and relationships. Play themes might come from real life or fantasy. In each theme, children might have multiple roles (i.e. one minute they are a chef and next they are a doctor). Through their various roles, children can act out different relationships and learn about their own.
You can become a "play mentor" for your child by encouraging play, in which children plan the scenario of their play together, negotiate their roles and the specific things the "characters" will do.
Use props during your play. Children will gravitate to the familiar, using realistic props at first, but over time you will see children use imaginary props. An example of an imaginary prop would be using a scarf as a tail.
Parents/ Caregivers/ Grandparents should discuss rules with children. By making up, and following the rules of play, children learn to delay immediate fulfillment of their desires by conforming to what is expected in their roles.
Children who miss out on pretend play in their early years may have gaps in social, cognitive, and linguistic skills. I encourage all of you to Pretend Play at home with your child/children.