Symbolic play is the topic which is close to my heart, and I would like to open the door and let you have a little peak about the importance of creative play.
As a young first-time mum, I watched my son play for hours and hours, with a large cardboard box. The box was a symbol of simplicity, flexibility, freedom, wonder, and excitement. One moment he was a chef, cooking meals, choosing ingredients carefully, using the box as a fridge, stove and pantry. Next, he would change his hat and the box would become his work desk at a police station, where he’d investigate, solve problems, for other imaginary people. Then he’d use the same box as an aeroplane, and be a pilot, taking people around the world, using rich language to simulate a conversation in the cockpit. He would make space for bags in the carry hold, and make sounds as his plane lands, and the wheels touch the ground. The excitement in his eyes and sense of wonder made me think how important make-believe play is for children under 6 years of age.
Jean Piaget (1896-1980) was the first psychologist who described cognitive development in stages. He believed that a child’s interaction with the environment garners learning. In the first stage, sensory, from 0 to 2 years, babies explore and manipulate objects in their environment. In the second stage, pre-operations, 2 to 7 years of age, children’s curiosity is leading the child’s learning through interpreting the world and symbolic play.
The role of the educator in the early childhood setting is to provide opportunities for children to process creativity, for an individual, pairs, small, or large group play. Providing resources, which are inviting to children, is important. Providing time, and letting children practice their skills without being rushed onto another activity, even more so. Being assertive and responsive to different needs, as some children will need more encouragement, whereas other’s will do more on their own. Arranging a stimulating environment for children to explore is a great step that shows the value of the learning through play.
Enable children to experience a range of emotional response in dramatic play when developing moments, which will encourage further learning. Encourage children to develop different experiences and present them to others.
Dramatic play gives children the freedom to express their own interpretation of their own world.
Keep smiling 🙂
Natasa from Piptree Sunnybank Hills