Although it may seem that playing house or doctor is cute and simply just play, these scenarios actually possess some very important benefits for children. Through dramatic play, children are actively able to play different roles and act out different situations in a safe environment, building traits and skills they can apply to the real world.
Through dramatic play, children develop and learn important social skills. They learn how to take turns, have an opportunity to exercise manners, and learn how to communicate and interact effectively with one another. The social skills that children gain through dramatic play they can then apply to the real world -- the classroom, the home, in public settings and later, in the work world.
Dramatic play is an ideal way to promote language development in children. When acting out different scenarios, children use words that they may never otherwise have an opportunity to use in a meaningful way. For example, when a child assumes the role of a parent or a teacher, he may use words that he hears his father or teacher use, giving them a purpose and making them a significant part of his vocabulary. He uses his words as a means of communication, helping to build his language skills.
Expression of Emotions
Although adults know how to use their words to express their feelings and emotions, most children are unaware of how to do so. Dramatic play provides children with an opportunity to express how they feel about events they have experienced in a safe environment. For example, if a child is coping with the loss of a grandparent, she may act out her feelings and internalize her emotions, helping her understand them better.
Motor Skill Development
Dramatic play helps children develop both their fine and gross motor skills. When a child jumps, hops, runs or dances while playing, he is exercising and building the large muscles of his body, increasing his agility, balance and coordination. The buttoning, zippering and tying that he may do when putting different costumes on himself or on figures helps to develop his fine motor skills, as he uses the small muscles of his hands to do so.
Dramatic play encourages children to think creatively and exercise their imaginations. When a child uses different objects to represent specific items -- a sheet as the sea or cotton balls as ice cream -- she is exercising her creativity. Additionally, when playing dramatically, children pretend they are someone or something else in different settings, which in and of itself promotes creative thinking.