The Importance of role play
This is an insight into why I feel Role Play is so important for our little explorers. There is information I have gathered to write this from being an EYFS teacher, training I have been on and also from being a Mummy myself.
So…Lets talk role play!
Role play centres are up and coming and are swiftly taking precedence over soft play. They are a great educational way to get your children role playing and learning in their best, most natural way!
“It is paradoxical that many educators and parents still differentiate between a time for learning and a time for play without seeing the vital connection between them.” -Leo F. Buscaglia
As an Early Years teacher for 9 years I had the pleasure of developing and creating different role plays situations to ensure the children were actively learning through playing out situations and professions that they will undoubtedly encounter in their lives. At Petite Street we have tried to create key role play rooms of familiar jobs that children know well and aspire to act out and eventually be. Our rooms promote many skills, some of which will be discussed further in this article.
What follows, is a breakdown of the essential development areas that Petite Street encompasses.
When role playing children are always developing their social skills and social interactions. With other children in the same rooms, engaged in the same play (due to the themed rooms,) the children naturally interact. This can be socialising without even talking: just being inspired in the same theme or mimicking each other. The children can also promote their social skills through speaking and interacting with each other as they talk through a game and the roles they have taken on; from this, they automatically learning new vocabulary. In role play centres, you will often see children making new friends.
“Almost all creativity involves purposeful play.” – Abraham Maslow
2. Physical development
When your child is taking on a role they are often using those all-important physical skills as well. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they are riding on one of our cars or climbing a wall that they have built; this can be using their fine motor skills as well. Activities such as picking up letters and posting them in the post box or using the doctors and veterinary utensils to examine animals and people, require them to use their fine motor skills. The development of these skills will help them later in life when they are asked to perform intricate tasks, write or have a desire to take part in anything that requires refined and controlled movements and muscle memory.
Sadly, my time as a teacher showed ever decreasing imagination in children. Watching so much television and video games means the focus has been taken away from children playing with toys and acting out. With role play, children are getting the opportunity to use creative and imaginative skills that they may have seen and experienced first-hand or be creating by themselves. Although children’s academics is very important in school and pre-school settings, role-play plays an integral part too. Many of the great academics of our time – including Einstein – have all emphasised how far creativity can take you in life. Role play is just one of the many ways this is possible.
"Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world." Albert Einstein
4. People and communities
Being part of a community is a key part to learning within the development matters statements for children. It builds on a foundation of being a good member of the community but also knowing people who help them, jobs and the roles of people within their community. Within role play, when based on real life situations and settings, children get an understanding of the job. An example of this is the Police station at Petite Street – we enjoyed having a local Police officer speak to the children. He was there to answer questions and show his uniform to the children, showing they should not be scared of the police in the community and they are there to help. The children enjoyed role playing alongside the officer and learning new skills along the way. All occupations we have at Petite Street are based around real life situations so that the children learn from them and have the opportunity to apply the knowledge they already have.
5. Confidence building
For some children, who can find it hard to socialise and talk to other children, role play can be a way for them to interact in a neutral environment. Role play is for everyone and all children can be included. With no pressure to speak, children can be encouraged to join in which can boost their confidence and aid their self-esteem.
6. Emotional development
Role play encourages children to think logically and problem solve as they play alongside each other. Crucial emotional skills such as learning to take it in turns, listening to one another and sharing are naturally presented and learnt. Role play also Encourages children to empathise by taking on the role of a different character which teaches them an understanding of different perspectives. Being in a relaxed role play based environment can also allow children to express their ideas and feelings openly, without judgement thus allowing them to feel safe and secure to explore different situations and emotions.
Yes learning! When children are taking on all of these wonderful creative roles they are learning so much! They are learning skills that they will use on a daily basis in a range of situations not only academically but in life outside of school/ pre-school and into the wider community. They will be building on their previous knowledge, learning from each other and adults and crucially, allowing themselves to problem solve and test their ideas and thinking as they take on these characters and be anything they want to be!
“Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play children learn how to learn.” - O. Fred Donaldson