Importance Of Children’s Dramatic Play

Children’s play is often referred to as “children’s work”. Play time is more than fun and entertainment. It helps develop their mental and physical skills. This process starts when they are babies. Parents, teachers and care-givers help this process by choosing age related toys and activities for children. Obviously there’s a large variety from which to choose. Dramatic play is one of these choices.

Dramatic play is commonly known as dress-up time. It is sometimes called symbolic, imitative, or pretend play. Children dress-up as someone or something different than themselves, then “dramatize” themselves in this role by acting out situations they have observed in others. This is a developmental part of learning that allows children to develop many skills. They can become Mom or Dad, a boss, fireman, policeman, cook or teacher. They can not only play in a home setting, but in a retail store, gas station, library, classroom, or a Doctor’s office setting. The options are endless.

Some props will be needed for them. Clothes, shoes, accessories, hats, tools, vehicles, and a blanket or sheet to make a tent or house are easily found around the house. For example other items which can be used for creativity are pencils, crayons, paper, chalk board or wipe-off board and greeting cards. The materials should be age appropriate for physical, social and cognitive skills. Change the props on a regular basis to spark new interest and allow children to try new experiences while playing.

There are many skills that children learn from dramatic play. Role playing is when they are mimicking actions and verbal speech of the person or thing they are imitating. They will start out using the props they have and then go on to creative substitution such as using a jump rope as a fire hose. Dramatic play is all make-believe. Kids are imitating what they have seen and heard. As they advance they start using their own words and may start fantasizing situations. To start with, dramatic play may be brief. As kids grow into their role and become more experienced, they will lengthen their attention span.

Dramatic play promotes social and emotional skills. Kids are interacting with other kids, parents, teachers or care-givers. They have to agree on what they are going to play, who will play which part, and cooperate with each other. They learn how to cope with everyday experiences and any fears or worries that come with them. They will learn empathy when they place themselves in other peoples shoes. They learn to cooperate with their peers, learn to control their impulses and normally will be less aggressive. It also promotes speaking and listening skills. They learn to communicate better with others.

Dramatic play helps develop fine and gross motor skills. They learn how a fire fighter climbs a ladder and holds a hose. Or they learn how to dress a baby and change a diaper. When it’s time to put things away they develop eye-hand coordination and visual perception.

Cognitive skills are learned through dramatic play. Children make use of pictures they have visualized of past experiences. This is abstract thinking. Math skills are learned while setting a dinner table, making change as a check-out clerk, and setting a clock. When children are playing together, they learn how to solve problems together and how to share ideas.

Make-believe play helps language skills. They explain what they are doing, answer and ask questions, learn new words, learn to read and write.

The nice thing about dramatic play is that there are no set rules to follow. Having a big assortment of props isn’t necessary. Kids can make an object anything they want. That is, after all, what dress-up is all about. They are learning while they are playing and having fun being the “grown-up”!

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