Thursday, 20 November 2014

Dramatic Play

It is a proven fact that make belief play enhances many skills in children yet in today's early childhood classrooms we don't lay much stress on its importance. Play is often looked at something to be done at home rather than at school. It has changed over the years and there is no doubt that kids today seek more pleasure from video games or rather i pads than playing with peers. But old fashioned play is not just fun. It enhances skills like self regulation, control and language development. When children engage in pretend play they use a lot of private speech which is self regulating. Structured activities don't allow children to use such speech and hence don't give an opportunity to the kids to manage emotions or master social skills or solve problems.

Few things that one could do to set the stage for dramatic play and get the kids excited about it are:

Create an environment which invites kids to enact various roles. Set up an area in the class with various props but restrict giving children specific props to play. Allow multipurpose props that can be used to stand for many objects like boxes. They can turn into cars. trucks, refrigerators,rockets etc. Let children create their own props to make them feel more engaged.

Introduce and talk about various roles that people do in life. e.g. in a hospital, you would find doctors, nurses, receptionist, chemist, patients etc. When children are familiar with the various roles that people do in various settings, they would be more eager to enact such roles.

Allow children to plan their play. Of course the teacher will have to play an important role in this. She will have to discuss initially with children on the roles, theme and what will happen in the play. Initially one can divide children into groups to manage the dramatic play area and to ensure that even the shy ones get a turn. Plenty of time has to be given to children to fully explore the area and the materials.

With these few simple strategies you can give valuable and enriching experiences to children which would have a long lasting impact on our kids.

I must admit that i was also one of the teachers who wasn't particularly paying attention in building mature play skills in my children until a workshop i attended got me thinking. I had the occasional housekeeping center with the usual tools but i never paid much heed to it. But i was amazed at the response i got from my kids when i turned the little corner of our room into a doctors clinic. We were learning about doctors and i thought it was the perfect opportunity to introduce play in a meaningful way. Children were talking, discussing, taking turns, assigning roles to each other and mostly having a blast.I must say i have decided that this is one area i will not be turning my back on but would work consciously to bring it in my daily routine.

Here are few glimpses of that center in my class.

I made the signs and posters for the doctors clinic and you can get them by clicking HERE

The kids were super excited to work here and this picture captures that moment pretty well.