Dramatic play (also called pretend play) enhances your child’s life and world in countless ways. From language skills to problem solving skills, and even to physical development, dramatic play in preschool is a crucial component in helping your child become her best self.
We’ve covered some of the many benefits of dramatic play, and wanted to give you 6 more reasons why you can relax when your child plays pretend. It’s not a waste of time. In fact, it’s necessary.
1. Dramatic Play in Preschool Empowers Children
Think of how many rules your preschooler has to keep in mind each day. Sharing, keeping his hands to himself, waiting for a parent’s hand before running into the street, saying please and thank you, waiting her turn, etc.
And that’s just a normal day. If something upsetting or frightening happens in your child’s life (even something like seeing a scary image in a movie), your child has a lot to process and keep in mind.
It’s tough. But dramatic play helps a preschooler feel power. As they take on common pretend roles like Mom, Dad, the doctor, or the teacher, they get to be in control of the situation and try on the feeling of power. Plus, they get to make their wishes come true, and this helps them to process real-life emotions and events in a safe and empowered way.
2. Dramatic Play Helps Your Child Cope
When something difficult happens in your life, you talk it out with a friend, loved one, or therapist. Or you replay it in your mind as you work through your emotions and feelings. Maybe you write about it to process what happened.
A preschooler doesn’t yet have these language capabilities, and that’s where dramatic play comes into… well, play.
Instead of talking about his feelings, your child might reenact a difficult situation with his stuffed animals or friends. This helps him make peace with what happened and gives him the chance to move forward.
3. Dramatic Play Improves Your Child’s Thinking Skills
Dramatic play is a form of abstract thinking. As children play, they are recreating something they once experienced or pulling from their imagination. This requires cognitive skills, and each time your child plays pretend, those skills are enhanced.
4. Dramatic Play Increases Your Child’s Understanding of Symbols
When children play, objects stand in for the real thing. For example, a stuffed cat becomes a child’s “real” pet or a tiger in the jungle. Domino tiles become crackers or coins. Not only do children learn to improvise on the spot, they begin the important work of understanding symbols — which leads to understanding concepts like letters and numbers down the road.
5. Dramatic Play Increases Attention Span
In the beginning, a young child may only be able to have a pretend tea party for a few minutes. But as children grow, their pretend tea party lasts all afternoon and takes on new forms. Maybe something magical happens at the tea party, requiring the guests to take a break and follow the magic. Maybe the tea party becomes a fancy restaurant and menus must be drawn up.
As children engage in dramatic play, their attention span increases and they can spend a longer amount of time in their pretend world.
6. Dramatic Play Gives You an Insight Into Your Child’s Mind
Preschoolers can’t always articulate their feelings in a way that makes sense to adults. They’re still building their emotional vocabulary and piecing everything together. That can make it tricky to understand what’s going on inside your child’s mind.
But if you sit back and watch (or join in!) your child’s dramatic play, you’ll see clues about the inner workings of her mind. You’ll get a glimpse into what makes her afraid, happy, proud, and bold. And when you keep your discussions in the framework of what your child was playing, you can help your child talk about her feelings.
Dramatic play features heavily in UDA Creative Arts Preschool curriculum. Even though we witness it every day, we’re constantly amazed at how dramatic play can build confidence and improve children’s lives in countless ways. Come see us in action. Give us a call at (801) 523-5930, or contact us online to schedule a tour.