This post started off with the idea of it being “just one quick little post.” When I first started drafting the outline for this post – I soon realized that there is quite a bit that I wanted to share with you, and that my “one quick little post” would need to be turned into a series of separate posts. Where I will share stories of how creative role play and drama impacted various children that I’ve taught over the years, through to sharing simple ideas that you can try out at home with your little people. I am hoping that it will inspire, encourage and equip you as the parent to explore the fun and imaginative world of creative role play with your little ones – YAY!
CHAPTER ONE | ROLE PLAYING INTRODUCTION
As a mom and as a drama teacher for almost a decade to little people, I can honestly say that I get so excited when I see Malakai (or any child for that matter) engage, and immerse himself in his imagination, via role playing. Because I know exactly what it is doing for him emotionally, and mentally. He is nurturing his imagination, he is discovering unknown territory , and he is emotionally engaging and responding – by processing through what he creates. Which in turn is equipping and empowering him emotionally, it’s nurturing his imagination and creativity, and it’s also encouraging him to communicate freely.
WHAT IS ROLE PLAY FOR CHILDREN?
- For children, role play is essentially learning through play. It is a fun and a ‘playful’ activity but is also a key component of a child’s learning.
- Role play is simply a type of pretend play where children get into character and act out a role or real life context.
- Role play is an active, social activity and children use role play to reflect on and develop their knowledge of a topic.
Role playing unlocks so much in a little person, and it empowers them with the tools that they need to navigate themselves through this world. Don’t merely overlook it, or cast it aside in your home, instead look for ways to lovingly nurture and encourage it.
Role playing can be explored through fantasy dress ups (masks, costumes etc) , story books that they can reenact, movement music, fantasy props (swords,wands etc) puppets, art, pictures, toys, dolls, wooden ovens, kitchen sets, cleaning up toys, cars, teddy bears, just about anything really. We have a toy box that is filled with; an array of fantasy play objects, toys, dress up character costumes for Malakai to play with. We let him create freely, whilst we encourage and interact with the characters that he creates – which are way too cute, a little crazy, and so funny!
BENEFITS OF CREATIVE ROLE PLAYING
- It allows them to express themselves freely in a safe environment.
- It allows them to empathize with their characters, by understanding and relating to their characters thoughts and feelings.
- It inspires and encourages creativity.
- It helps them to understand themselves better, and the world that they live in.
- It encourages them to work with others.
- It encourages communication and language skills.
- It helps them to socialize with others better.
- It allows them to play out real life experiences, which in turn furthers their knowledge and understanding of real life scenarios.
TECHNOLOGY VS. CREATIVITY
We live in a day and age where everything is tech driven. Almost every other toddler has their own iPad to use at their leisure. Now, side note – there is nothing wrong with iPads, as it can be quite educational. The problem with always encouraging and relying on “iPad time”, is that after awhile, children will become absorbed with their iPad, they won’t communicate as much, and they won’t experience the same benefits that they would from good old creative role playing. Monitoring your toddlers screen time, and minimizing it will actually benefit them in the long run. Malakai was only introduced to an iPad when he turned three, he does not use it unless it’s the weekend. If he does – he will only watch drum tutorials – lol. Because we didn’t make it a thing in our home, it never became a thing, or a problem – ha!
However, I aint no mom of the year – I would easily pop on cartoons via the TV hoping to grab a moment of peace whilst cooking and cleaning up in the evenings. The evenings always feel like a mad rush of the : Amazing Race , meets Survivor, meets Project Runway, meets Zombie Apocalypse ! To me popping on the TV seemed like an easy way to distract, and entertain him. Until I read a very interesting online article, that encouraged parents to rather switch off all tech devices in the evening and let children feel bored , as a means of encouraging them to be more creative and find ways to entertain themselves. According to this article, they mentioned that when children feel bored, it allows them to A) decompress emotionally, B) filter through emotions, C) It encourages them to find creative ways in which to entertain themselves.
Naturally, I wanted to try this experiment to see if this was the case, and to my surprise it actually worked. When we get home in the late afternoons, I pop open his toy box in the lounge and I let him be. I don’t try to control ‘what or how’, I let him be. Sometimes, he gets so into his games, that I too get assigned a role. Those precious moments brings us closer together, as we bond over something that he has created, which in turn makes him feel special and more connected to me.
As parents we can’t do everything, and we are not expected to be perfect (phew, can I get a serious AMEN!?). However, I do believe that we can make little changes that will ultimately make a big long lasting impact on them that will ultimately shape their character future. Never underestimate the power of creative play for your little people, encourage them as they explore the world around them and watch them soar <3
PS —> What role playing characters do your little ones loves to act out? Or better yet, what were your favourite things to role-play as a child growing up?
I would LOVE to know!