Dramatic play is essential in early childhood programs. It is one way children use creativity based on their real experiences. It also helps children learn about the world in which they live. Through ‘practicing’ what they are seeing, hearing and experiencing in their everyday life, children are able to make sense of their world. Pretend play can also help children work out scary or new experiences in their lives – a visit to the doctor, having mom or dad leave for an extended time, or even a death in the family. Children are able to use role playing to feel more comfortable about their personal experiences.
Dramatic play helps children develop skills in higher level critical thinking, abstract thinking, language development, math concepts, and social systems understanding. They also develop key social skills through working out different situations in the dramatic play area. The purpose of many of the experiences and opportunities provided to children in early childhood programs is to help learning transfer from one area or context to another. This is a very important trait for success in school and life.
The Units of Study in the Early Learning Success curriculum, available at http://www.earlylearningsuccess.net offer a variety of themes for children to learn about their world. Combined with dramatic play experiences, children have the opportunity to ‘practice’ different situations that happen in their lives. For an extended list of dramatic play centers and suggested materials, click on Idea Box to get started.