Dramatic Play Will Make Your Preschooler Smarter
By Jen Holmstrom
Toddlers and Preschoolers are experts in what’s referred to as “dramatic play.” This is when a child uses their imagination to initiate a game of pretend or role playing. A child might peer through an empty paper towel roll and suddenly become a pirate sailing the seven seas; they might bang wildly on some kitchen pots and pans to present their first rock concert; and sometimes just walking around outside can turn into a jungle safari adventure. As frivolous as these games might seem to adults, dramatic play actually enhances very important skills that may assist your child in becoming successful.
A few of the areas that are enhanced through dramatic play are: Teamwork, Creativity, Problem Solving, Confidence, and Social Skills. Any time a group of children get together and decide to assign roles and pretend, they are collaborating as a group to play a game. Direction or guidance is given to each other. When the game begins, the participants are given creative freedom with their role to decide on reactions and interactions with the other children. And interacting with other children in a pretend game requires children to think on their feet. They may be faced with a scenario that causes the role players to add emotions and impromptu situations to the game. By being trusted as a member of a pretend game, a child is offered a chance to express themselves and they can build up confidence in their creative abilities or ideas. In general, when dramatic play is happening, children are joining forces with their peers and building up their public speaking or social interactions. All of these skills are wonderful tools to create a successful position in adulthood.
As a parent, you can help your child embrace dramatic play by doing three simple things:
Facilitate - Make sure you are providing ample opportunities for your child to exercise their imagination. Outdoor play is often a catalyst for dramatic play, as it is a different setting than the home. While in the home, you can set a small table with eating utensils and initiate a pretend meal. Passing down clothing from occupations or other time periods, can allow your child to dress up and role play. Or utilizing dolls, Legos, or action figures is also a great way to facilitate a pretend game.
Participate - Here is your opportunity to play a more pivotal role in your child’s development. If you are able to play a game of pretend with your child, you can initiate scenarios that are character building. You can teach the value of honesty, sharing, kindness, and so forth. Participating in dramatic play will also provide more participants for your child and will undoubtedly make your child happier. This goes along with the wonderful chance to build your personal relationship with your child and to make memories.
Encourage – This seems like a small effort on the part of a parent, but it is important to give your child feedback on your observations of their playtime. When you notice your child role playing, it is encouraging to make comments like, “I love the way you are rocking your baby to sleep so sweetly” or “That treasure hunts looks so exciting. Tell me all about it when you find the gold.” Kind comments can serve as positive reinforcement and will support your child’s decision to continue initiating similar types of games.
There are so many benefits to dramatic play, so it is important to be supporters of it. Preschoolers are very creative and dramatic play comes naturally. This age is specifically geared toward expanding ideas and exploring the world through pretend and imaginative games. Be aware of this time in your child’s life and nurture that creativity. By being a supporter of dramatic play, you will enable your child to develop numerous skills while they have fun and play.
More articles and presentations we have in our files on teaching preschool: