When children play make-believe, they often intuitively play games that help prepare them for adulthood. Dressing up as Mum or Dad, pretending to cook or other household tasks, even time spent on a computer, are all activities that help them learn about the world around them and their role in it.
George Town mum, Willow Demesne said that the dress-up box was her daughter Harper’s favourite activity, both at her Lady Gowrie Gordon Square childcare centre and at home. Harper had a couple of preferred characters that she and her friends at daycare loved to role play and the dress up box facilitated their role play. As a child psychiatrist, Willow loved to observe how the children copied the way adults behaved in their role play, knowing how important it is for healthy child development.
Learning to interact with others
In a childcare setting, children can use the safe, neutral space to practice interacting with others in the various make-believe scenarios they choose. Educators can use the opportunity to observe the interactions, and step in with guidance if necessary. When children can learn to talk, converse and confront others in a consequence free environment, it helps them to understand how to behave appropriately in real life situations.
Entertain and Delight
Every child develops at a different pace, and some children love to act and entertain. The dress up box is perfect for these children to expand their talents and have a ready audience in the childcare teachers or other children.
The dress up box allows children to express emotions in a role play situation that they may not be able to as themselves. Emotional development is vital for a healthy progression from child to adult. Learning to understand and regulate emotions is a strong aspect of the George Town childcare curriculum, and role play and dress up activities are part of that development.
Sharing and taking turns
There is always a more popular dress up item that offers a wonderful chance for children to learn how to take turns and share. The childcare educator may use the opportunity to teach time concepts, using a timer for each child to have their turn, or promote a sharing lesson where children use part of the costume each.
Dress Ups at Home
Willow set up a dress up box for her daughter to use at home out of her and her partner’s old clothes, shoes and bags. She found a few extra items at the local charity shop, and added a crown, cloak and coats. Harper always managed to find her own items around the house that were always found in the dress up box after much searching.
A dress up box and role play is an essential element of childcare programmes in George Town and across the region. Allowing children the time, place and props to pretend to be someone else and to learn how to communicate and interact is a vital part of their development.