How does role playing help my child?
What is role play for children?
For children, role play is essentially learning through play. It is a fun and a ‘playful’ activity but is also a key component of a child's learning.
Role play is simply a type of pretend play where children get into character and act out a role or real life context.
Role play is an active, social activity and children use role play to reflect on and develop their knowledge of a topic.
10 key benefits of role play for children
- Develops communication and language skills
- Allows children to act out and make sense of real-life situations
- Allows children to explore, investigate and experiment
- Develops social skills as children collaborate with others
- Encourages children to empathises: by taking on the role of character teaches children an understanding of different perspectives.
- Helps children learn about different cultures
- Encourages children to express their ideas and feelings in a relaxed environment
- Develops children's awareness of themselves and others
- Gets children learning more as learning is disguised as play
- Sparks creativity and imagination
Why is role play with children so effective?
Role play is an effective learning tool as it encourages children to become active participants in their learning.
- wear a costume and use props
- move about and use their energy
- put themselves in someone else’s shoes
- communicate and make decisions in character
all of which will allow them to take risks and explore different areas.
Learning from role play is therefore far more likely to stick with children than for example doing exercise sheets, mostly because they will be much more willing and enthusiastic!
As a teacher, or as a parent it is a great sign if you see the children you teach in the playground acting out what they have just learnt.
This shows that you have grabbed their attention and engaged their curiosity.
Role play is a safe copy of the real world for your child
Most role play sessions or areas will reflect a real life context.
Role play is therefore an effective way for children to make sense of the world around them.
Setting up a doctor's room, supermarket, police station or even swimming pool will allow children to explore these real life contexts.
In any role play area there can be opportunities to develop children's writing and Mathematic skills too.
Just leaving a pen and paper out will encourage children to write or mark-make without a fear of getting something wrong.
when setting up a supermarket, you could make blank shopping lists for the children to write on or give them pre-made shopping lists for them to collect items; so 3 oranges 5 lemons; this will encourage younger children to practice counting for a purpose other than assessment in a classroom.
Setting-up role play games with your child
By getting your child to create a role play area or session with you, your child is more likely to develop a sense of interest, understanding and even responsibility for it.
Leaving your child playing alone or with friends is good - it will let their imaginations take off.
But your presence sometimes is good too. Children can learn quickly the positive and negative impacts of their actions from role plays through the reaction of adults as well as their friends.
So if your child hits a teddy or doll as part of their role play, you can be there to let them know that is no good behaviour and show them a better way of behaving.
Rules for your child's role play
Children need to understand that the role play area or session is there for them to enjoy and happily play in - but that there are also rules.
For example, if a child rips up all the paper there will be nothing for them to draw on, or if they start pushing and not sharing then less friends will be allowed in at a time.
Impact on your child learning another language
Role play is one of the most effective ways of acquiring language:
- This is great for learning leanguage - both for children with English as an additional language and for native English speakers.
- A child can repeat what they hear parents say or simply make up their own sentences.
- As well as vocabulary and language, role play develops a toddler's communication skills as they communicate with each other in a safe environment.
Role play with children at school or nursery
Learning through role play is seen as so important in the UK that it is included within the Early Years Primary classroom and nursery schools curriculum.
There is usually a role play area in pre-school nurseries. This area is often decorated to suit particular topics and props can be left out for children to use and explore.
The classic themes are doctors and nurses, police and firemen, teachers and pupils and of course family members such a grand-parents, Mum and Dad and baby.
Whilst role play is usually a child-led activity, the adult's role can be vital. This is true in a nursery setting or at home with Mum and Dad.
Rules need to be clearly established with (or by) the children and an adult can prompt discussions or ask questions to help children think about their pretend environment and learn from it.
In summary, role play gives children so much
In essence, role play provides opportunities to develop skills in various different areas of the curriculum for example:numbers, history, culture and many other areas.
Role play is a great way to learn at all ages!