Role-play is an important part of child development and a way for children to make sense of the world around them. Children start to engage in role-play from around 18 months of age. Understanding why and how children role-play can provide parents with knowledge to best support role-play fun and learning
There are three key role-play categories;
- Family; Mum, Dad, siblings or pets – allows children to explore different dynamics
- Character or fantasy; princesses or Spiderman – helps children identify good from bad and encourages bravery
- Functional or occupational; such as a firefighter, police or doctor, defined by specific actions and not the identity of the character – allows children to learn about their real environment
Role-play encourages creativity and imagination. It can provide a safe space for problem solving and support children in developing social skills (how they get along with their peers) and emotional skills (how they react to situations) including empathy, conflict resolution and teamwork. These are all important skills that will serve them in the school setting and other aspects of life.
Role-play can assist physical development, engaging children’s motor skills and hand to eye coordination – whether it be dressing or feeding baby or building at the construction site.
Role-play can also have a positive effect on speech and language acquisition – enhancing communication skills with the use of eye contact, turn-taking and listening skills. New words and new characters can combine to build new vocabulary for different events and experiences.
Perth Speech Pathologist and mum of three, Alex Trichilo explains, ‘Role-play is an essential part of a child’s journey to becoming an adult. It gives them the opportunity to practice language that they wouldn’t usually use on a day-to-day basis.
Little land has created a play space that integrates fun and learning, specifically designed for children up to approximately 8 years of age. The play space’s little town has been designed by a team of early childhood educators, paediatric occupational therapists and speech pathologists to offer a creative and educational play experience.Just like visiting the real shops, Little Land’s Little Growers Market is a great place to explore language. The groceries may be ‘big’ or ‘small’, or you can search for items starting with a certain letter. Visiting Little Land’s construction site can promote language in lots of ways too by modelling verbs – stack, dig, build, bang.
A little tip – don’t be afraid to use something to imitate something else. Blocks can be used as pet food and cardboard boxes are only limited by your little one’s imagination! Using items to represent other items is known as Symbolic Play and is a critical aspect of play development.
Alex says, ‘Role-play is an ongoing skill throughout childhood and is a fantastic activity for developing play at all developmental stages.’
‘It is important to see the progression from children playing by themselves, to playing next to other children, and then to playing in an organised way with each other in groups.’
Little Land also offers Sensory Sessions, developed in consultation with the Autism Association of Western Australia – a low stimulus environment to support the needs of children with Autism and specific sensory needs. Limited to 15 Wanderers, the Sensory Sessions incorporate additional materials including the ‘Going to Little Land’ storybook to help prepare your child before your visit, and play sequence guides to further support play and learning.
Play sessions are 90 minutes and run at 9am, 11am, 1pm and 3pm Tuesday through to Saturday.
Book your play session at www.littleland.fun