Dramatic play is a type of play in which children pretend to be a factious person either from their imagination or from their memory. Dramatic play for toddlers is beneficial to their development and must be encouraged by parents.
Last Updated: 23 October 2020
What is dramatic play?
Dramatic play in children happens when they dress-up, enact or speak like a fantasy character or a thing they watched on the television or a movie or someone from their real life.
What are the common dramatic plays for toddlers?
A 3-year old pretending to be a princess or a batman is quite a common sight at home with young children. Dramatic play is spontaneous and unplanned most often. Yet, some of the common dramatic plays among toddlers are listed below:
- Pretending to be a popular cartoon or television character – eg., a superhero or a movie character. They might recreate a scene they have observed or voice out a popular dialogue or song from a television show.
- Acting like a person they know in their real life – eg., pretending to be their mom and making breakfast in the toy kitchen.
- Playing a make-believe game – eg., giving a bath to a doll or dressing-up the doll
- Creating a scene or character from their imagination – eg., pretending to be a doctor and addressing a patient in a clinic.
- Making use of objects as props in their play – eg., pretending to be a pirate, closing an eye, using a newspaper scroll as a binocular, using a table as a pirate ship to stand upon it.
What are the benefits of dramatic play?
Dramatic play has shown to be beneficial to early childhood development. Here are some of the benefits of dramatic play for toddlers:
Enhances creativity and imagination
Dramatic play is a food for a child’s creative side of the brain. A child who wants to imitate driving a car looks for an object to use as a prop in his play and picks a plate from the kitchen to use as the steering wheel of his car. In the process, he is widening the depth of understanding of an object, studying its shape and size and creatively matches another object in its place. A child pretending to be a superhero imagines fantasy heroic activities which cannot be done in real life.
Promotes intellectual development
Your child’s make-believe games may seem like a random childish act. But his thinking capacity is greatly expanded when he plans the sequence of events after his pretend patient enters his pretend doctor’s office. Greeting the patient friend, enquiring about the health problem, diagnosing, prescribing medicine and sending off with a note are opportunities where the child learns to actively play the role of a doctor.
Children are naturally curious. They can be curious about at least a hundred things in a day. During a dramatic play, children become increasingly curious about the character or a person or a thing they are playing about. When your child imitates cooking like you do, he gets curious about the materials you use for cooking and the processes involved. After every round of observation, they will be able to fine tune small changes in their play.
Sharpens communication and language development
If you observe a child playing a dramatic play, you’ll realize that it is always associated with detailed verbal communication. When two children are pretend playing as a teacher and a student, there is a rich exchange of conversations. Explanations, interrogations, instructions and answers – children explore several forms of communication. Dramatic play increases vocabulary and helps children to express their thought process using appropriate words and expressions.
Nurtures emotional development
Children laugh, scream, converse and experience a variety of emotions during a dramatic play. Playing a firefighter game introduces children to acting on an emergency, feeling trapped and the relief after the rescue. It makes them appreciate emotions like feeling grateful and appreciation for a good job. Dramatic play for toddlers is a way to make them see the world through a myriad of shades.
How to encourage dramatic play for toddlers?
- Dramatic play is natural in children. Allowing them to play their imaginative games without overriding their thought process with yours is the best help you can do to encourage dramatic play in children.
- Place open-ended props in their play area which they can use for their pretend plays.
- Whenever possible, participate in their dramatic plays. Being a patient for your doctor girl or acting like a student when they pretend like a teacher will make them enthusiastic about dramatic plays.