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How Dramatic Play Promotes Healthy Child Development

September 15, 2020

In Columbia Academy preschool classrooms, teachers use The Creative Curriculum® to create lesson plans with developmentally appropriate objectives. These objectives help children have positive interactions with both their peers and adults, develop social-emotional competence, be constructive and purposeful in their play, and continue to develop motor skill growth. Dramatic play has an integral role in the healthy development of children during the preschool years. Creative Curriculum® classrooms have a specific, dedicated area for creative and imaginative play.

Both structured and unstructured dramatic play are critical to healthy academic, physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development. It allows our youngest learners to put themselves in someone else’s shoes and see things from someone else’s perspective, which teaches empathy and understanding.

Dramatic play is a positive step for preschool-age children toward self-regulation. Children like to stick to the rules of what they are playing which helps them to control impulses and coordinate with others.

Dramatic play also gives children an emotional outlet to explore their thoughts and feelings. When children experience life events they find difficult to understand, they can re-enact these events through play and often find relief from emotional stress and anxiety while sorting through difficult emotions.

Many teachable moments arise regarding conflict resolution during both structured and unstructured dramatic play. Children will naturally have disagreements during unstructured dramatic play, and this affords children the opportunity to work through their differences and reach a compromise.

Language, literacy, and communication skills play a huge role in everyday life. From talking with family to creating grocery lists to reading a favorite nighttime storybook, countless times each day we encounter text and communicate with others. Children use language to explain their actions and to ask and answer questions. Dramatic play gives children firsthand experience with the many ways these skills play a part in daily life, and has the added benefit of increasing reading comprehension. Children may choose to re-enact a scene from their favorite book which can lead to a deeper understanding of the story and the characters.

When they pretend-play, children create pictures in their minds about past situations they imagine. When children use play money to buy groceries at the pretend grocery store, they explore math concepts. They also learn from each other and solve problems together.

Children also further develop their motor skills when they button and snap dress up clothes, and they practice hand-eye coordination when they clean up their props after play.

There are many ways in which dramatic play contributes to the healthy development of children. Children are exposed to a myriad of experiences and challenges in their young lives. When students learn in a positive school environment that supports their academic, physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development, this “whole child” educational approach boosts achievement for all children, regardless of their circumstances.

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