How Dramatic Play Supports Child Development
Dramatic Play has a significant role in the emotional and psychological development of a child. When we observe children at play its quite common to see them imitating someone like a parent or a teacher, or even a fictional character. It’s quite common to see a little girl rocking a doll in her arms or pretending to cook with a toy kitchen set. In this case she is pretending to be a mother. Little boys may pretend to be superheroes or enact the roles of fathers or sportsmen.
This sort of pretend play is known as Dramatic Play, where children act out real world situations or even enact fantasy roles.
Dramatic play can be of two types:-
- Structured dramatic play
- Unstructured dramatic play
In structured dramatic play the children are given a set of specific guidelines or a scenario like traffic on a road. The children are taught about traffic lights and they are then free to choose roles such as a policeman, a set of traffic lights, pedestrians crossing the road and even vehicles. While having fun enacting the scene they learn about road discipline. They learn to make choices and they also are able to find solutions to everyday events.
Unstructured dramatic play on the other hand gives children the freedom to choose their own scenarios and roles. Though children should always be supervised, in this case there is no adult intervention or instructions on how to play. This sort of play gives children a sense of freedom and there is no fear of failure.
Children need both these types of play for an all round development. Dramatic play helps a child develop various different types of skills.
- They develop language skills while interacting with each other and also enhance their vocabulary.
- Social and emotional skills are enhanced while interacting with peers in planning out various forms of dramatic play. They also learn to respect each other and also to cooperate with their friends.
- Motor skills are developed during dramatic play as children try to dress themselves or even while setting up a scenario and later putting toys away in their designated areas.
- Cognitive skills are enhanced as children indulge in make believe play. They even improve on maths skills as they count items during dramatic play. Older children can be given a scenario where they set up a shop and they count pretend money.
Children should be encouraged to indulge in dramatic play in different ways.
- It is natural for children to gravitate towards play and this should not be discouraged as this leads to their development. Any common object like a handkerchief or a bottle cap or a spoon becomes an imaginative toy in the hands of a child.
- If possible, adults could set up an area designated for dramatic play with simple items which could be used as props. Old scarves, cushions, rugs, wigs, pretend jewellery can all be made into props by imaginative kids.
- A Wendy house is a popular play area especially in a preschool or the garden of a house. Here children can have a toy house large enough for them to play in without adult intervention.
The actual importance of Dramatic Play in a child’s development is that it enhances various skills which will be of help throughout their life and also encourages them to understand and cope with real life situations. Children just need a place to play and give freedom to their imagination and this helps them develop as well rounded individuals.