Dramatic Play, A World of Learning!

One of my favorite things to do is watch my daughter play when she is really into one of her role playing activities. It is as though she has totally left reality and is actually living in the story she is creating. I love it! It seems as though she develops a different form of dramatic play each day; whether it is elaborately setting up a picnic, dressing up as a doctor to fix her patients, playing with her figures to create a story, or creating a puppet show.

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Dramatic play is such a huge aspect of development in young children. It is the stepping a stone for positive social and emotional development and is frequently where children work out bigger issues they may be struggling to understand.
For a while at school my daughter’s teachers noted that whenever she played family she wanted to act out the role of baby. At first I was curious as to why she wanted to be the baby since at home she carries around dolls and assumes the mother role. It only dawned on me later that she was working out her ideas and feelings about my being pregnant and a new baby joining our family. By role playing “the baby”she was able to work out abstract ideas in her head that she was unable to articulate. After a few weeks she moved onto a different role when she had worked through her emotions and ideas on the matter.

One other huge benefit to imaginative play is language development.  While children are playing they are sharing their vocabulary with each other.  Words pertaining to the imaginary world they are creating begin to enter their everyday vocabulary.  While my children were playing together in one room I heard their discussion about their play from the other room.  My older daughter would say a sentence and my son (just getting a hold of language) would repeat the words that were new or unfamiliar to him.  The next day my son tried to explain something to me and used one of the words his sister had shared with him.  Through dramatic play my son’s vocabulary was growing before my eyes!

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Imaginative play also gives children the chance to look at the world through different lenses.  They are literally trying on someone else’s shoes!  Children are role playing for fun, however at the same time they are learning about different positions within society; whether it is a fire fighter, doctor, princess, dancer, teacher or parent. Each time they play a different character they gain a different perspective and comprehension of what it is like to be that type of a person.

There are so many benefits to encouraging dramatic play.  I watch both my daughter and my son blossom while using their imagination to create a new world around them.   I am facinated by how they use each prop and the interesting story they come up with.  Below are several ways in which imaginative play helps child development and some simple ways to encourage your children.  The sky is the limit so enjoy and allow your imaginations to take you and your children away!

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Dramatic Play Enables Children To:

– Learn while they are playing
– Develop their imagination
– Work on their social skills
– Focus on their feelings verbally or through expression
– Develop social skills and empathy for others
– Build their language and vocabulary
– Problem solve in a safe environment

Forms of Dramatic Play that Can Easily be Developed:

– Puppets (for a cheap alternative create your own sock puppets)
– Dress up / role play (for a cheap alternative old Halloween costumes work wonderfully)
– Kitchen / food play (for a cheap alternative use your non breakable kitchen gear)
– Action figures / dolls / stuffed animals
– Tool bench / work area
– Even a large box can give hours of dramatic play fun

For more information check out these interesting web sights:

What is Immaginative Play and How to Encorage it

The Importance of Pretend Play

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