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An Early Childcare Assistant’s Guide to the Educational Benefits of Dramatic Play

September 9, 2015

childcare training

Playtime is serious business for young learners! By acting out different dramatic roles, children can explore the boundaries of their own identities and put a variety of new skills into practice.

With the guidance of trained professionals in a safe environment, children can experience productive playtimes and develop ideas about the world around them. They gain social skills, physical dexterity, personal insight, and more—building foundational skills they’ll use for years to come.

If you are planning to enroll in early childcare assistant courses, or you have already started your program, read on to learn about the benefits of dramatic play in early childhood education.

Dramatic Play is an Early Childhood Cognitive Workout

Underneath those fireman hats and fluffy wigs, children’s minds are working extra hard—dressing up and acting out scenes pushes a child toward higher levels of thinking.

For example, children playing “house” must recall what they’ve seen their parents do at home in order to act it out. In addition, they must communicate effectively with each other, negotiate ideas, and participate in active storytelling, all while incorporating imaginative abstract thinking.

“When kids substitute a wooden block for a phone, they are thinking symbolically,” says Dr. Ann Barbour, leading American professor of early childhood education. “That’s a precursor to all later academic experiences, like reading, writing and math.”

Dramatic play also introduces children to the concept of identity. How does a pirate act? What does a teacher do? Who can be a superhero? Dressing-up helps children arrive at first-hand conclusions about different ways they can express themselves.

Early Childcare Professionals Teach Social Skills Through Dramatic Play

Experts with an early childcare assistant diploma have the skills to create safe, developmentally-appropriate spaces where children can take risks and practice fundamental social skills.

Through play, children explore big issues like fairness and right and wrong. They learn to balance their desire for power and control with their need for fun and caring friendships. With a professional’s support, they take turns, agree on topics, problem-solve, and work as a team.

Dress-up play encourages an interest in peers and society. By literally walking in other people’s shoes, kids can learn about what life is like for various members of their communities. In fact, studies link role-play to empathy, suggesting that children who role-play are more skilled in judging how other people might feel than those who don’t role-play.

Dramatic Play Gives Children Physical Benefits

Childcare training teaches the value of offering diverse activities for active bodies and minds.

Dramatic play ticks all the physical development boxes: from gross motor skills that come from running, dancing, or pretending to fly, to fine muscle coordination from grasping, zipping, or buttoning.

These take lots of practice for preschoolers and help prepare them for life skills like getting dressed and using small utensils to eat and write. Making time for their coordination development will promote their physical health and allow them to burn off some of the day’s excess energy.

The Early Childhood Assistant’s Role in Dramatic Play

If you choose to become an early childcare assistant, children will depend on you to provide them with the time, space, and support they’ll need for enriching dramatic play. You will help ensure the classroom is kept safe and clean, and assist educators in providing the skills and emotional strength children need to take chances and cope with complex learning situations.

Early childcare professionals are the anchor of each imaginary pirate ship, and the key ingredient in every playtime kitchen. With the right training, you can take on the job of helping children reach their full potential.

Are you interested in becoming an early childhood assistant? Visit the NAHB for more information or to speak with an advisor.

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