Wasn’t it Shakespeare who said, “All the world’s a stage”? It certainly is for our children! Look around any playground and you’ll see little ones improvising complete acts of theatre for no audience aside from one another. Role play is fun and transformative for kids. It can transport them to whole new worlds. They can be princess, princesses, soldiers or superheroes. They can craft complex narratives collaboratively on the fly, even as they live them out. It’s a sophisticated cognitive process... But of course, kids don’t know that. They’re too busy having fun and losing themselves in a world of imagination!
Role play is more than just a fun exercise. It is an important developmental exercise that is extremely helpful in building an essential portfolio of cognitive and social skills. When engaging in role play, either with each other or with toys and games, children develop;
In an age where children grow up increasingly reliant on digital devices to communicate, it’s more important than ever to introduce them to the intricacies and protocols of social skills from a young age. Role play allows children to experiment with and simulate social protocols, roles and behaviours in the “safe space” of dramatic play.
When we look at the kind of world our children will inherit, it seems as though self-cherishing and self-interest can be treated as admirable virtues. The social media age has made each of us the star of our own reality show, the bastion of our own personal brand. While social media certainly has its place, it also necessitates a healthy sense of empathy. Without empathy, any of us can become convinced by social media and advertising that we are the most important person on the planet... Only to be horrendously disappointed when we are exposed to the real world. Empathy is the key to meaningful and harmonious social interactions in daily life.
Role play enables children to experience events and scenarios from another character’s perspective. It helps them to understand feelings, thoughts and opinions other than their own and encourages them to consider how they would react in certain fictional scenarios.
Whether acting out fantasy scenes or playing with toys, children often demonstrate outstanding teamwork when they engage in role play. The structure of role play encourages teamwork and collaboration between children. They naturally fall into the habit of accepting and delegating responsibilities. They assign tasks to themselves and one another and carry them out without complaint or rebellion.
Needless to say, this is a skill that they will need to bring to the classroom and eventually the world of work.
It introduces real-world adult considerations in a safe space
Role play helps young minds to grapple with a variety of social, moral and personal conundrums that their adult counterparts grapple with on a regular basis. It encourages them to think about how they would react in troubling situations and helps them to consider a range of adult considerations from what kind of parent they would want to be to what kind of career they would like to go into.