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
Source: A Place of Our Own