This past week, our Jasper friends have been immersed in role playing through different scenarios, everywhere you look, diverse dramatizations are taking place. Dramatic play can be defined as a type of play where children accept and assign roles, and then act them out. It is a time when they break through the walls of reality, pretend to be someone or something different from themselves, and dramatize situations and actions to go along with the roles they have chosen to play. While this type of play may be viewed as frivolous by some, it remains an integral part of the developmental learning process by allowing children to develop skills in such areas as abstract thinking, literacy, math, and social studies, in a timely, natural manner. In terms of development that is linked to dramatic play, there are four major areas to explore.
Social/Emotional – When children come together in a dramatic play experience, they have to agree on a topic (basically what “show” they will perform), negotiate roles, and cooperate to bring it all together. And by recreating some of the life experiences they actually face, they learn how to cope with any fears and worries that may accompany these experiences. Children who participate in dramatic play experiences are better able to show empathy for others because they have “tried out” being that someone else for a while. They also develop the skills they need to cooperate with their peers, learn to control their impulses.
Physical – Dramatic play helps children develop both gross and fine motor skills – fire fighters climb and parents dress their babies. And when children put their materials away, they practice eye-hand coordination and visual discrimination.
Cognitive – When children are involved in make-believe play, they make use of pictures they have created in their minds to recreate past experiences, which is a form of abstract thinking. Setting a table for a meal, counting out change as a cashier, dialing a telephone, and setting the clock promote the use of math skills. By adding such things as magazines, road signs, food boxes, cans, paper and pencils to the materials included in the area, we help children develop literacy skills. When children come together in this form of play, they also learn how to share ideas, and solve problems together.
Language – In order to work together in a dramatic play situation, children learn to use language to explain what they are doing. They learn to ask and answer questions and the words they use fit whatever role they are playing. Personal vocabularies grow as they begin to use new words appropriately, and the importance of reading and writing skills in everyday life becomes apparent by their use of literacy materials that fill the area.
Dramatic play engages children in both life and learning. Its’ real value lies in the fact that it increases their understanding of the world they live in, while it works to develop personal skills that will help them meet with success throughout their lives