Dramatic play is a huge element of any Early Years learning environment, and too much to cover in a few paragraphs. So what follows are some general observations and beliefs about dramatic play and children’s development.
Dramatic play can take many forms from a dedicated space, home corner, shop, vet area in a room, to incidental play opportunities, such as, “do you want to play Mums and Dads?”.
This play is often stilted or stops if an educator approaches or interacts too immediately in its dynamic. We observe from afar for body language to indicate if something is not going according to plan, otherwise, we give space and respect to allow the children to explore their social dynamics, the rules of the game, and fulfil the need that prompted the game, in their own way. We have encouraged the children to (and feel they do) approach us if there is an unmanageable problem. This helps develop their resilience and autonomy.
There is social and emotional consolidating that happens during this play, as the children work through the complexity of having friends, disagreements, wonderful moments of co-creation, development of scripts, language, and communication. Within role play the children have a safe space to try out new ideas, thoughts, and concepts. It is a wonderful way to express and explore different roles to those that they normally encounter.
As a tool for school readiness, it is invaluable, for while we may have the intelligence to read, or work out mathematical problems, or the dexterity to thread a needle, or create a stunningly observed piece of artwork, the ability to cope and maintain our sense of self (identity) in group situations is a skill that underpins all these other independent pursuits.
Over this year, we have observed a group of children that are relaxed and respectful in their social boundaries with each other. We know they have gained an understanding of the negotiating skills needed, imagination to dream, the ability to think deeply about a concept and have the opportunity to explore that with their peers. We hope we have created a happy, safe and nurturing space for them to develop these life skills.
Kristin De Vos | Director of Early Learning Centre