Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Language Skills

Would other describe your child as: articulate, well-spoken, precocious? Dramatic play enhances verbal skills.

Pretend play also builds language skills. Kids often use words and phrases in play that you never knew they knew. They use language to plan their play with others and language usually supports the roles they adopt. At the same time, they can experiment with language and learn to use it appropriately. After all, doctors say different things than storekeepers do. Dramatic play also helps kids concentrate, be attentive and control their own behavior – all skills that will help them do well in school and in life. . --Ann Barbour, Ph.D., Early Childhood Education Professor

Abstract Thinking and Problem Solving

Does your child think abstractly? Is he at an age-appropriate level for cognitive development? The latest computerized toys may be hurting his development.

Dramatic play promotes abstract thinking. When children use a prop (like a block) to stand for something else (a phone for instance), they are learning to think using symbols. The block symbolizes the phone. And that kind of thinking is the basis for just about everything children learn in school. After all, letters and words and numbers are really symbols for real objects or quantities. Dramatic play also encourages problem solving, and if children are playing with others, it builds social and emotional skills: learning about other peoples’ feelings and perspectives, negotiating, cooperating, etc. They also learn how to respond appropriately to others. In dramatic play kids can be anything they want just by pretending and that’s emotionally satisfying and builds self-esteem. --Ann Barbour, Ph.D., Early Childhood Education Professor

See the World through your Child's Eyes

Parents struggle with some big questions. What does my son know about empathy? How can I be sure my daughter understands what it means that the family is going to be moving to a new home? Does he really know that the dog is sick and we have to be more gentle to him? Is she okay with the divorce?

How can parents know what their child is experiencing? Through dramatic play. Dramatic play gives a parent insight into their child's experience of the world, simply by watching him/her play with appropriate toys.
When children use their imaginations or pretend, we call that dramatic play and that’s the main type of play for 3-to7-year-olds. What they’re doing in dramatic play is representing in their own way their understanding of their experiences, rather than simply imitating what they see others do. They use objects and actions and storylines to symbolize the things that concern them. And in the process, they’re building thinking skills and developing social, emotional and language skills. Dramatic play is a very important context for learning. --Ann Barbour, Ph.D., Early Childhood Education Professor

Friday, November 18, 2011

Incorporating dramatic play into your classroom

"Research clearly supports developmentally appropriate practices in the early childhood classroom, but recent demands by specific programs and curriculum... [finds] teachers find themselves struggling with time and organization restraints where one or two curriculum trends take over the classroom, leaving little time for anything else...The secret to keeping the balance in developmentally appropriate practices involves adjusting our curriculum to new trends and research suggestions without sacrificing the benefits of current practices that have proved beneficial results for young children time and time again," says Tammy Benson, Ed.D. at PBS Teachers.
Here are some ways you can incorporate dramatic play into your classroom using products, such as our occupational finger puppets (shown above), at Dexter Educational Toys:
  • Build around thematic units.
  • Designate a specific play area.
  • Allow adequate time for play experiences.
  • Add items to promote pro-social behaviors and character development.
  • Reinforce physical, cognitive, and social skills appropriate for the grade level.
  • Promote creativity and flexibility of play.
  • Ensure problem-solving is taking place.