by Maria Denholm December 06, 2021 5 min read
Children spend most of their time engaging in some form of play.
As children get older, their play gets more complicated and expressive. Usually, they begin to create imaginative role-playing games from the age of four. This is commonly known as dramatic play.
Dramatic play occurs when children play parts in pretend scenarios or act out a familiar story. For example, they may mimic their home life by playing family in the kitchen area. One child may act as the parent while other children play roles like "the baby" or "the kitty."
Children may also develop some pretend scenarios based on books, tv shows, video games, or movies that they have seen, such as The 3 Little Pigs.
When children engage in dramatic play, they develop cognitive skills like storytelling and sequencing logical events. Children also develop fine and gross motor skills by putting on costumes and manipulating props.
However, social skills are widely considered the most essential skills children explore during pretend play.
By engaging in role-play, children gain the ability to form connections and collaborate effectively with their peers. In addition, when a group of children engages in creative, pretend play, they build emotional intelligence and communication skills.
Emotional intelligence is the ability to be aware of one's emotions and navigate interpersonal relationships with thoughtfulness and empathy.
The child acting as the parent is reading the baby's behavior and attempts to respond appropriately.
Roleplaying gives children an abundance of opportunities to strengthen oral and written communication skills.
The child acting as a waiter is using pictures and letters to convey meaning.
Children do not engage in dramatic play exclusively with their peers. They also enjoy role-playing with their parents and other familiar adults. There are several ways that grown-ups can encourage children to engage in creative play.
Take notice of the toys or interests that hold their attention. For example, a child who never interacts with dress-up clothes might not be willing to participate in games that involve costumes.
Children often mimic stories they see in books, tv shows, or movies. Read several books with them and allow them to watch an appropriate amount of video content. A little screen time is just fine.
You'll soon see your child engaging in play that mirrors familiar stories. For example, they may search the house looking for small, big, and "just right" things to play "Goldilocks."
Children also mimic the behavior of their family members and other close associates. While making dinner, talk your child through the steps. "I'm putting the chicken on your plate. We're eating chicken for dinner."
You may soon see your child "cooking chicken" in their toy kitchen.
Sometimes children want to engage in dramatic play but are reluctant to initiate role-play scenarios by themselves. When this happens, you can make suggestions to help give them ideas.
For example, if a child is making car noises, you can sit next to them and say, "It sounds like you're driving somewhere. Let's go together." The child might then create a scenario where they drive to the store.
It's important to note that this strategy is most effective when adults follow the child's lead. Play along when they expand on your suggestion, but don't force it. Pushing an idea the child is disinterested in will cause them to disengage.
Creative role-playing allows children to explore and develop cognitive, social, and language skills. As a result, dramatic play is a precious tool in the home and classroom.
If you want to help your child grow, add a little bit of drama to their day.