Becky Goddard-Hill blogs at Baby Budgeting and Family Budgeting, focusing on creative ways to raise a family. Prior to parenting Becky was a senior social worker who trained staff in child development, play and identity.
She is now mum to Franklyn and Annalise (aged 7 and 4) and a freelance writer. She is the author of How to Afford Time off with Your Baby (Vermilion 2009) and is currently crafting a whole series of stories about unicorns & rainbows!
Becky has written this piece about the importance of Role Play for our Kids:
Children love to role play. They adore immersing themselves in pretending to be another person and acting out that role. It gives them a sense of power, helps them feel ‘grown up’ and encourages them to imagine what another person may say or do. It also helps their social and emotional skills as they have to try and empathise with another person’s viewpoint, e.g. a frazzled mummy, a busy shopkeeper or a panicky astronaut. Role playing encourages turn taking, and cooperation as well as problem solving and storytelling. It is a fabulous aid to a child’s development.
My son likes to be a teacher at ‘Lego School’ and boss my little daughter around. I think this would be his fantasy job actually! GLTC sell a very sweet play school that would be perfect for role playing school. This 149 piece set includes everything they need to imagine the ultimate pretend classroom such as grades a register, stickers, a clock, a dry-wipe board, maps, a calendar and much more. Children do love to role play as authentically as possible; it helps them really embrace their role. I guess it would be the same for any actor. To facilitate role play the best thing you can do is give your children time.
Imagination often kicks in best when there seems little to do.
My daughter who is 4 loves mostly to role play me. She enjoys organising everyone for school or making tea (I think she enjoys it more than me actually!) This helps her understand what I do and means she controls the menu. There is a lot of cake coming out of her play kitchen! GLTC sell gorgeous toy kitchens and I really like their retro play kitchen. I think it’s’ neutral colours encourage boys to play with it too (very important to avoid gender role division at such a young age.) In my experience you get many years play from a play kitchen and it’s a toy worth investing in.
Super Chef Play Kitchen – £155
We have a trunk full of dressing up clothes which encourage role play too. We have fire-fighters, vets, nurse and police officer outfits for those important ‘real’ role plays. These help the children understand positions in society and who does what. The children use these roles to practice rescuing, helping, arresting (!) and taking care of others. Other outfits such as fairies and wizards are more about ‘pretending and imagining’ and it is good to have a mix.
Not just clothes but props help with role play too. Dollies and prams help children have a go at parenting roles, play food helps stock shops and kitchens, paper money and shopping tills all extend the play experience and help with skill development, I tend to introduce new ‘props’ every so often, sometimes these will be bought and sometimes found lying around. A prop may just be something simple yet educational like a fabric shopping bag, which will give me the chance to talk about recycling. Or it may be something silly like a talking toy parrot. Children will use their creativity to pull these props into their play and it is great fun to see.
What will your kids be today?