Play is a valuable learning tool for children. Pretending expands a child's life experiences by letting him/her be whomever he/she desires. Through pretending children can investigate and understand the world around them.
There are many benefits to dramatic play and dress up, and it’s important that you set aside time each and every day to play together with your child. Let’s look at some examples of things that dramatic play helps kids do:
Explore issues in their lives – small children have difficulty grasping things like a new baby, a sick relative, or a move. Dramatic play allows you and your child to explore the changes that are about to occur, in a fun and exciting way. How about pretending that their dolls are sick, and they must go to the hospital to get better? Or maybe Mr. Bear has to move to a different town and try to make new friends with the other bears in town? The possibilities are endless- and you are free to discuss fears and concerns with your child in an imaginative way.
Experiment with different behaviors – playing together doesn’t come naturally to kids. They must work on cooperating with others and dealing with anger and frustration when it arises. One of the best ways to do this is through dress up. Wouldn’t you much rather your child gets upset with a stuffed animal, then a fellow playmate?
Practice decision-making/problem solving – if there are four kids and two cookies, how can you divide them up so that everyone gets their share? Try that experiment with a room full of toddlers, and someone is going to end up in tears. Act it out at home in the safety of dramatic play, and a life lesson will be learned.
Process different points of view – How do you help your child become sympathetic with the world around them? You teach them what it feels like to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. Dress up allows your child to be anyone that they want to be, and helps them understand where the other person is coming up. Remember playing school as a kid? Being the teacher gave you a whole new perspective on what it was like to be a student.
Learn new concepts – there are so many other things that your child could gain from dramatic play. Math can be taught through a pretend trip to the grocery store for example.
Dramatic play helps your child become a valuable part of the adult world, while keeping them safe and secure. Don’t be afraid to let your child lead the way, and listen when they speak. You may just gain a better understanding of the world too!
This type of imaginary play is a wonderful way for children to use their imagination, actions and language to think things through and link with familiar situations.