Monday, September 20, 2010

The Power of Role Playing for Young Children

On our very first day of school, one of the books we read was about other children playing dress up and pretending to be veterinarians. As soon as break time arrived, my kids immediately raced upstairs for their doctor toys, stuffed animals, and a white sweater (to sub as a lab coat). For the rest of the break period and after school was over, this role play dominated their play time.

Fortunately for me, they let me take a few pictures to record one of their cases. (For insurance purposes, you know.)

La doctora is in...

Hmmm...Apparently the diagnosis has something to do with a bad heart.


Pobrecito! He does look a little FOWL!!
(Jajaja! Oh, come on. It was funny!)

A little surgery should fix him right up...

¡Pues, con razón! No wonder he was grumpy!
Wouldn't you be, if you had a block stuck in you?

Anyway, all this got me to thinking and paying attention and soon I realized that at least once a day or more during their play time together, my kids are actively role playing. Veterinarian, doctor, cowboys, knights, native Americans, super heroes, explorers, royalty, scientists, bird watchers...the list is endless. Sometimes they even pretend to be the characters in books we have read or movies we've watched, like Adelita (from Tomie dePaola's novel of the same name), Rosalinda (from Under the Lemon Moon), Jack and Annie from the Magic Tree House series, or Violet and Dash from The Incredibles, to name a few.

So I started doing some reading and before you know it, I have a new found respect for this form of play. Not only is it helping them explore and develop their imaginations, but it also may also have a physical effect on my children's brains. It does, in fact, have many benefits, as I discovered after reading One Step Ahead's Pretend Play: The Magical Benefits of Role Play. And once I realized how role playing can take many forms, I discovered that the percentage of time my kids spend doing this increased exponentially.

So next time you see your kids acting out their favorite story, or making one up as they go along, don't hesitate to jump in and give them a helping hand if need be. Not only will they be delighted to have another participant, but you might just be surprised at how well they have learned their role.

You can read more about role play at one of these sites:


The Nature of Children's Play :: David Fernie

The Role of Pretend Play in Children's Cognitive Development :: Doris Bergen for Early Childhood Research and Practice

Con mucho cariño...


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