Children learn an incredible amount of skills through the simple joy of role play. This play enables them to recreate experinces they have had and through acting them out they can explore things that happened and why. It can also help prepare children for an upcoming visit to a hairdresser or daunting visit to hospital.
They can also use their imaginations to envision different experiences that could happen in that environment, giving chance to act out scenarios and see what happens. It is a wonderful way for children to explore language and develop communication and teamwork with their peers. We are always incredible impressed with the intricate storylines children add to their role play, and how welcoming they are of their peers who want to join in. It can be a great way to develop these teamwork skills.
We can also use role play as a tool to support a child for an upcoming experience. For example we have created hospital role play areas for children who are due to have an operation, this enables us to create a relaxing, welcoming and positive experience around the environment before the child experiences it for real. We then leave the role up for them to explore after they have had their hospital visit so that they can use it as a way to communicate with us what happened. Creating a family role play area has been very supportive when children are expecting younger siblings to be born. This gives chance for us to introduce the idea of feeding, changing and bathing for babies and a way to open up discussions as to what may change when a baby arrives and what they have to look forward to as well.
We often set up enhanced role play areas for children after we observe that the children are creating their own role play with the materials available to them and showing an interest in something in particular. For example we have set up role play hairdressers for children after they have been sharing these experiences and pretending to do eachothers hair. We provide further toys and resources for them to explore this in more depth and as adults we step in to their play to enhance it further by adding in new ideas, vocabulary and play skills. We also encourage children to continue to use their imagination and pretend objects represent other things within their play as this is a wonderful creative skill.
Some examples of role play areas we have created alongside the children are:
Hospital / Doctors Surgery
Family Role Play (Bathing, feeding and changing dolls)
Ice Cream Shop
Role play relating to stories that we are enjoying and children wish to act out the storyline as the characters – expressing wonderful understanding of the stories!