Three Reasons Why Role Play is Brilliant for Child Development...
Why is role play important for child development?
Role play is a technical term for make-believe or imaginative play. It is incredibly important and beneficial for children as it helps them to consolidate what they have already learnt by repeating an experience they have been through. It is also one of the best possible outlets for creative and imaginative play, this is so important in the structured world that we live in! Providing a dressing up box is one very small part of role play, and you might be surprised to hear about some of the benefits this kind of play can provide for your child, and actually that you don’t need to provide many props at all! Here are my top 3 reasons why role play is great for child development...
Role play is super simple!
You absolutely can provide a dressing up box and/or props to support your child’s role play, but these are nice to have rather than being necessary for quality role play, and in fact, at times having props may actually hinder rather than help imagination to flourish. In order for children to sustain their attention during play, resources should be as open-ended as possible, props that you can buy for the purpose of role play tend to be very specific to the topic, for example; a sword for a knight. By encouraging children to take charge of their games, they are more likely to become deeply involved in the play for a longer period of time. By providing your child with a choice, or by encouraging them to seek out their own props, you give them the opportunity to use decision making skills, use their imagination and the prop can be recycled with a new life over and over again. Nature provides some of the best opportunities for open ended play, for example: a stick may become:
- a magic wand
- a sword
- a lead for a dog
- a pencil
- or something even more creative that your child comes up with!
It is also worth thinking about what open-ended toys that your child already loves to play with, and how they can be used in other ways. Here at Rosa & Bo, one of our most versatile toys are our Nesting Babies. The Russian Doll style means that the babies can be taken apart and the cups could be used in ‘cooking’ or during a ‘tea-party’ or even to hide some hidden treasure! Check them out if you’re looking for resources to extend your child’s play!
Role play improves communication and language skills
Role play is absolutely amazing for developing all aspects of young children’s communication and language skills. If you consider some of the scenarios a child may choose to make an imaginary game from such as:
- Being in space
- A circus
- Being a vet
There is an absolute wealth of vocabulary to be discovered within these scenarios! This gives children the chance to extend their vocabulary by engaging with the following:
Giving them a reason to ask questions about the game, including: who, what, where, how questions, all of these are key to developing vocabulary skills and conversational skills too. All of this language development takes place in an environment that’s free from pressure and develops organically, which is the ideal way for children to gain confidence with their language skills!
If you’d like to know more about how to support your child’s communication and language skills, this parents guide on ages and stages from ICAN is a great place to start.
Role play helps children make sense of the world around them
Have you noticed that your child loves to pretend to make a cup of tea? Or loves to play doctors? By reenacting scenarios that your child has observed and experienced, this helps them make sense of the world around them, and also gives the opportunity for two things that are critical to the way a child learns. They can either:
- Consolidate their learning
By having the opportunity to practise what they have observed and experienced
- Extend their learning
Children will usually start role playing with the experiences that they know and are familiar to them. By having the opportunity to take what they already know and build on this through role play. For example, your child may have had the opportunity to take part in some cooking with you. Of course, there will be certain parts of a cooking experience you are unable to safely allow your child to take part with, using role play, your child is able to complete the experience and therefore deepen their learning and understanding. For example, using their imagination, they may pretend to ‘open and close’ the oven, or ‘serve’ food.
We hope this has inspired you to enjoy some role play with your children! We would love to see pictures and videos of your children in action to share on our social media and inspire other parents with your ideas!
This blog has been written by our Resident Play Expert here at Rosa & Bo, Sarah Doman. Sarah is a Hypnobirth and Early Years Expert. She helps families from pregnancy to children of school age to give birth and parent with confidence. You can find her on social media @sarahldoman