This past week in Jasper Room, the children have increased their interests when it comes to dramatic play. They have been constantly immersed into the roles of different animals in the jungle, as astronauts exploring the great beyond, as chefs in a fast paced restaurant etc….
This notion of play is where Vygotsky connects socio-dramatic play (“pretend” play) to children’s developing self-regulation. During socio-dramatic play, children naturally engage in learning that is in their “zone of proximal development,” in other words, learning that is at the “edge” of their capacities.
Evidence may be seen in various play contexts in the classroom, children may be noticing for the first time that they can influence how water moves through a tube, that their shadow moves when they move, or how it feels to move a paintbrush over a canvas. As they notice and build on their insights, they are regulating their own learning.
In socio-dramatic play, language becomes a self-regulatory tool. Children’s private speech, or self-talk, is a mode through which they shift from external regulation (e.g., by a family member or educator) to self-regulation. Children begin to assimilate adult prompts, descriptions, explanations, and strategies by incorporating them into their self-talk. As they integrate the language they have heard into their own private speech, they are activating complex cognitive processes such as attention, memory, planning, and self-direction.
Participants in socio-dramatic play communicate with each other using language and symbolic gestures to describe and extrapolate from familiar experiences, and to imagine and create new stories. Socio-dramatic play supports children’s self-regulation and increases their potential to learn as they engage with the people and resources in their environment.
This mode of play will be further developed as we incorporate the ideals behind dramatic play in terms of provocations and extensions through which the children can grow their zone of proximal development.
Have a great weekend everyone 🙂