Roleplay is more than just pretend play for children. While it allows kids to let their imagination run wild – it’s also a fundamental part of child development.
We bet that you’ve seen your child pick up a remote control and turn it into a spaceship or maybe they’ve pretended to be on a call with a princess. Although it may look like they are just playing, they are learning healthy developmental skills that will benefit them for years to come. Below, we discuss why roleplay is an important part of childhood development, list the various types of roleplay, and why we consider it a beneficial part of early learning.
Roleplay For Children: It’s More Than Just Pretend Play
A quote by Lloyd Alexander comes to mind when thinking about children and roleplay, “Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality. It is a way of understanding.” As a child, the act of role-playing and pretending to be in various improvised scenarios allows them to learn about and make sense of the world around them.
Young children learn by observing (i.e. listening and watching those around them) and then imitating the actions and behaviors of others during play. Whether that is an everyday role such as being a parent or a complete fantasy role such as being a superhero. This form of play in their early years not only encourages creativity but also develops social skills, language development, cooperation, and problem-solving.
In many cases, children use roleplay as a way to make sense of events that happened to them in real life. For example, a child that pretends to be in a doctor’s clinic may act out being given a ‘shot’ or medicine. Although this is a common experience, it can often feel confusing or scary for the child. By acting it out during roleplay, it allows the child to express their feelings and understand their emotions about what happened. This helps them to feel more comfortable and prepared for when it happens again.
Different Ways Children Roleplay
Roleplay can be incorporated in several ways into the home or the classroom, however, the types of role-playing listed below are the most commonly seen:
- Occupational: This refers to when a child acts out a role or situation that they encounter regularly such as a teacher, builder, firefighter, or a doctor.
- Fantasy: Fantasy roleplay is common among children and often involves them imagining that they are their favorite superhero. Or maybe they are a witch, mermaid, or dragon.
- Real-life: Acting out real-life situations is another common way that children play and make sense of the world. Your child may relive that time you went on vacation to the beach or perhaps they are pretending to visit their grandparents.
- Toy-based play: Children often use props such as toys when role-playing. Similar to how Andy played with his toys in Toy Story, a child will create a story or situation and act it out using their toys.
Each of these roleplay examples requires your child to engage their creativity, scientific inquiry, and emotional understanding of the environment that they live in.
Benefits of Roleplay As Part of Early Learning
Here at Vivvi, we always make sure that there is plenty of time for your child to engage in roleplay whether they are with us in the classroom at one of our campuses or are receiving learning support from our in-home teachers. Below are just some of the wonderful benefits of roleplay for children.
Enhances Language and Communication Skills
As you may already know, kids can be quick to pick up new words. Combining language skill development with playtime (especially if it involves a character that they love) offers the opportunity to build on their vocabulary. By using new words in various contexts and situations, your child’s confidence in their communication skills will continue to grow. They learn how to convey different messages and also learn how to listen – this benefits them as they develop early literacy skills.
Develops Social and Emotional Skills
Role-playing encourages a child to participate in imaginative scenarios where they have to interact with others (real or imaginary). By creating a character, a child ultimately steps into that person’s or role’s shoes. This results in them empathizing with others, understanding other people’s behavior, learning how to react in emotionally appropriate ways, and allows them to experience different points of view.
Many professionals believe that a child’s capacity for creativity is linked directly to their ability to roleplay. This kind of play engages the right side of the brain which is associated with imagination, daydreaming, and emotion. A good imagination not only offers your child endless opportunities for enjoyment but also improves their problem-solving skills, helps them learn to think in new ways, and allows them to relate to the world around them. All of these skills will be valuable for your child later in life.
Improves Physical Development
The importance of roleplay for child development is also evident in a more physical sense. Role-playing requires your child to be active and energetic. They can’t fight a monster if they are sitting still. Instead, they have to engage various muscle groups and their cardiovascular system to jump, run, and climb their way to victory. This all plays a part in enhancing your child’s fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
Best Play Activities to Try With Your Child Today
The great thing about role-playing is that your child needs very little to be successful at it – after all, all they need is a great imagination. However, as a parent, there are ways that you can help to make sure that your child is receiving as many benefits as possible from this form of playtime.
- Start a bakery – Get your child to bake cookies and cakes to sell to their friends and family. Baked goods can be made out of cardboard cutouts and crayons can be used for decorations.
- Re-enact their favorite fairytale – Many children can easily relate to fairytales that tell stories of princesses, knights, and witches. Ask your child to act out a chosen fairytale and use clothes and teddies as props.
- Baby care – Many children mimic the actions and behaviors of their parents, especially if you also have a baby. This is one of the most effective role-playing scenarios for kids as it teaches them how to care and nurture for others. Encourage your child to feed and dress up their doll or stuffed animal.
- Become a doctor or nurse – Many children like to pretend that they are a doctor or nurse taking care of a patient. Along with baby care, this is often considered a must-try game for preschoolers. Give your child a notepad to prescribe medicines and a make-shift stethoscope using headphones, then let their imagination run wild.
- Camping – A real-life scenario such as camping is another great example of roleplay for children. You can make a tent out of a bedsheet and build a pretend fire using sticks. For some added excitement, parents can play the part of an animal that the child has to capture.
At Vivvi, we provide children with a warm, safe space where they can explore their creativity and imagination in a supportive environment. The Vivvi learning model offers your child many opportunities to engage in fun activities that support early learning and childhood development. For more information about our learning program or to inquire about visiting our campuses, get in touch with our team today.