Today’s post is written by TeachingJenB on the benefits of Dress Up for young children. Thank you TeachingJenB!
As a form of pretend play, Dress Up Days are a powerful tool for speech-language pathologists to help children learn to communicate better. Dressing up enables kids to easily grasp concepts related to symbolism while also allowing them to have fun.
Researchers from the International Council for Children’s Play explained how pretend play contributes to the development of skills necessary for language. For example, when a child uses a stick as a sword or a toy bucket in place of a firefighter’s helmet, they are learning to see things symbolically. This is important because representational thinking is the basis for language, due to the fact that language itself is a system of symbols.
Moreover, taking roles in made up scenarios allows children to repeat sentences they’ve heard in use around them. They could also have fun with the words they know to construct their own sentences. Such processes not only extend their vocabulary, they tend to learn to communicate with their parents and other children as well.
It is interesting to note that the benefits of Dress Up Days do not stop with the development of speech and social interaction skills. The activity helps children holistically by giving them skills they will need later in life.
It develops creativity.
One of the most noticeable benefits of Dress Up Days is that it lets children harness their limitless imagination. Psychologists Sandra Russ and Claire E. Wallace point to divergent thinking as one of the most important benefits of pretend play. Divergent thinking is the ability to generate a variety of ideas, which is essential to creative production.
During Dress Up Days, children are able to choose characters and settings, make up stories, and improvise different outcomes – all cognitive abilities that will help them think flexibly and innovatively. In turn, these will help them develop problem-solving skills.
Dressing up as others builds empathy.
When role-playing in costumes, children practice seeing the world through another person’s eyes. In fact, research published by the Child Development Journal connects pretend play with a child’s grasping of the “theory of mind”. The term refers to an awareness that other people’s thoughts may differ from your own, and that a variety of perspectives on a single issue is possible. Whether a child is pretending to be a doctor or a pirate, role-based playing usually present in Dress Up Days helps children be more sensitive to the feelings of others.
It lets them be themselves.
Ironically, allowing children to dress up as anyone else ultimately allows them to be themselves. Letting children choose their own costume provides independence over the way they look. Because the opportunities are endless, choosing their own costume gives them the freedom of self-expression and builds a sense of accomplishment, especially when they see themselves in the mirror as the characters they would like to be.
While most parents acknowledge that it is important to let children build self-confidence, it is also important to be keen to the limits which are imposed upon the little ones, regardless if they’re unintentional. For instance, Tootsa founder Kate Pietrasik shared in a blog post how puzzling it was to see boys in her daughter’s group come to Dress Up Days as everything from monsters to bumblebees; while girls all attended in frilly dresses in varying shades of pink. Although there is nothing wrong with dresses, it’s also vital to be conscious of whether girls are truly being given limitless opportunities, and how parents can encourage them to develop their own identities.
Pretend play in Dress Up Days is one of the most important ways on how children can learn critical skills for them to grow up as emotionally healthy individuals. All in all, the occasion not only helps them improve their language and communication skills; it teaches them to be more creative, empathetic, and self-confident.
Exclusively written for Speechpeeps.com