Dramatic Play in Early Childhood Classroom
Dramatic play in the early childhood classroom is considered by many to be one of the most important kinds of play young children can engage in because this area allows for children to practice their language development skills with their peers while learning social cues from one another. This area also allows for children to experiment and shadow what is seen done by adults in their everyday lives. Dramatic play allows children to become autonomous and creative in the way they pair objects and bring meaning to their use.
Girls and boys often take on pretend roles that seem sexist to adults, but this is not really the case. Girls and boys often play various roles in the dramatic play area. Children simply do what they have seen and mimic the actions of adults in their lives. The roles of mother, aunt, and babysitter are taken on by girls and those of father, uncle, and fireman are taken on by boys simply to explore their frame of mind. “These are spontaneous roles young children may choose for themselves in order to investigate their world” (Beaty, 2009, p.267).
Children learn cooperation and being flexible through dramatic play via social cues given by their peers. In order to play house, children must understand specific roles set as the mother, father and child roles and flexibility comes in sharing the roles in responsible and caring manner. Children learn to coexist by seeing differences in each other’s character and speech patterns.
The spontaneous leader and follower roles that emerge in dramatic play sometimes lead to an important kind of conflict. This conflict is important and children learn from it. The leader and follower roles emerge in dramatic play and lead them to learning how to compromise and work as a team. The conflict of power arises in such behavior and allows children to settle conflicts using the understanding that other children have feelings and in order to play, all participants must enjoy the game and not have their feelings hurt.
Many children like to play the role of a superhero. This role may sometimes be very energetic and with high emotions. In the classroom children may exhibit behavior that may be hurtful to themselves or others while they mimic superhero play therefore adults must understand how to deal with such play so that it does not get out of control. Superhero play is natural in role formations of young children. Channeling children’s energy in the appropriate direction in superhero play allows children to work through the conflicts and battles of such play through well-enforced rules. “If you decide to admit superhero play to your classroom, you need to channel it in the direction of the pro social learning with restrictions and limitations” (Beaty, 2009, p.277).
Beaty, J.J. (2009). Preschool appropriate practices. Clifton Park, NY: Delmar Cengage Learning.