Kids are at their cutest when role playing, the things they do, the way they talk and even move gives us as parents an insight into their understanding of the world, their likes and dislikes and shines a light on just how perceptive they are.
Watching my kids pretend to be mum has left me beaming with pride, cringing in confusion, laughing out loud or wondering – WHERE DID THAT COME FROM!!
While dress ups and specialised props are great fun, the best thing about role playing is that it only requires one thing. The one thing all children have in unlimited supply – IMAGINATION! Even friends are not an essential requirement of a fun role play game.
And with that, the benefits of role play are almost unlimited the 10 key benefits as published by Kallikids.com are;
Develops communication and language skills
Allows children to act out and make sense of real-life situations
Allows children to explore, investigate and experiment
Develops social skills as children collaborate with others
Encourages children to empathises: by taking on the role of character teaches children an understanding of different perspectives.
Helps children learn about different cultures
Encourages children to express their ideas and feelings in a relaxed environment
Develops children's awareness of themselves and others
Gets children learning more as learning is disguised as play
Sparks creativity and imagination
My favourite of all these is that role play helps kids learn empathy. The digital, faceless world children are now growing up in with it’s easy “redo”, “delete”, “restart” etc makes learning empathy allot harder. One of my girls is 8year old and loves an on line social game where her avatar can interact with avatars of other people. On the face of it, having characters that interact with others that belong to real people should be more interesting and challenging than playing with only digital characters but I have found that due to the “harmless” nature of their playing field, bullying is pretty much all that goes on. There is even an option in some of the play areas to kill the other players and you are the winner if you are the last to survive. Needless to say this game is now only allowed under supervision and killing is strictly off limits.
Banning our kids from the digital world is probably not realistic, but I believe encouraging them to bring their role play out of the digital world and into the real world can help make them better people. Thankfully, dressing up and role playing is also a favourite pastime for my kids so we aim for a healthy balance of both.