Encouraging Children's Creative Play

Childrens creative play is an important learning tool. Learn why and also some great ways to encourage it.

A very important aspect of early childhood learning is the ability to role play. Children learn through doing and mimicking those around them. It is how they discover and learn about the world. Obviously this is why role models need to be especially careful regarding their own behavior in front of children - it will be copied.

Part of the learning process involves being put into certain situations and choosing what the outcome will be. Children indulging in creative play will have to make decisions about important events. They will project themselves into a situation that requires empathy and understanding of the role. One of the most favorite role playing scenarios of childhood is playing house. Have you ever watched this happen? See how they mimic the parents and care for the "˜baby', how they discipline and choose outcomes. They are learning more about their world in this situation than you could ever imagine.

So it is vital that children be exposed to many opportunities to role play. You can help this along with providing a few basic elements conducive to creative and dramatic play in your home. Stay tuned in to your child's needs and provide opportunities to expand on the game. Here are some ideas to get you going:

PLAYING SHOP

Set up a grocery store. Bring down the canned goods and save the empty cereal boxes for just such an occasion. Get together and price all the goods and then make a cart out of an old box. Cut up some paper for money and choose your shopkeeper. Next, make a grocery list and go shopping.

While the kids are having a great time pretending to play shop, they are learning organizational skills, mathematical skills and problem solving.

PROP BOXES

Teach your kids about basic grooming with a hairdressing prop box. Don't throw away that old hairdryer, remove the cord and save it for the hairdresser box. Throw in some rollers and hairbrushes and clips and you have a great start to a salon.



Put together a restaurant box with some homemade menus, paper plates, money, aprons and cutlery. Practice ordering from the menu and discussing how you behave when eating out.

Get an Emergency services box together with some fireman and policeman accessories. This is a great way for children to learn about the role of these people in our society. Act out a few scenarios that require assistance and let the children choose an appropriate response. Here, they will learn about compassion and helping others.

DRESS UP BOX

One of the easiest ways to let your kids get inventive is to provide a dress up box full of old clothes. Let them experiment with taking on different personas by providing a variety of clothing choices. Hats, shoes, coats, shirts, dresses and more all appropriate for different occasions. Do you kids know why?

SET UP AN OFFICE

Does Mom or Dad work in an office? Here is a great way for your children to understand what it is that you do in your work life. Set up a mini workstation similar to the one you use at work. Perhaps you could find an old typewriter or keyboard and sit it upon a desk at their height. Provide some paper and some crayons and an old telephone. Slowly direct them through your routine and discuss what it is that you do.

SET UP SCHOOL

Make a school room at home and let the kids play schoolhouse. Use desks and chairs and let them take turns being a teacher and set the homework. This is a great way for older school children relieve some of the pressures of school life and a great way for you to gain some insight into their day. Go one step further and establish the principles office and create some scenarios as to why someone may have to pay a visit! This is also a good way to approach peer pressure issues.

Most children will naturally seek out ways to be creative in their play, but there is a lot that you can do to help enhance that play and direct it so that everyone will get the most out of it. Children enjoy being creative, it helps them to make sense of the world, and they will especially enjoy the time that they will spend with you. Providing and participating in creative and role playing afford you greater insight into your child's life - and that's a great thing!

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