When I decided to create a new costume line for children, I knew two things—that I wanted to make dress up more comfortable, and that I wanted to cultivate children’s natural curiosity about real world characters and heroes. What I didn’t know was the multitude of benefits that dress up can offer a child: from supporting their confidence and joy to promoting their cognitive, emotional, and social development!
Did you know that early play can enrich a child’s literacy?
One day, Louise (my daughter) came home from school and was so excited to report that there was a special visitor that day: a lovely librarian named Michele. Later that day, I found a pamphlet from the library on activities to help prepare Louise for reading tucked away in her backpack. I’m not a literacy expert myself, and was surprised to see some activities listed that I wouldn’t have associated with reading! The four stepping stones listed to prepare your child for reading were talking, singing, playing, and writing (scribbling counts too)!
I was thrilled to see playing listed among these reading readiness skills—it’s something we do often, and I love encouraging it on our Snickerdoos platforms.
I dug in to find out more and learned that play, in addition to being fun, helps children think symbolically. For example, have you ever noticed how a child can associate a wooden block with a phone from a young age? Hi! Hi!…Bye-bye! That is because at a young age, children begin thinking symbolically. One shape or symbol can represent and giving meaning to another. This kind of symbolic thinking can relate to reading as children begin learning that each individual letter (shape) represents a particular sound.
So where does dramatic play come in?
During dramatic play, children create and act out stories, which builds their knowledge and understanding of how a story works. This helps them understand the characters, structures, and themes when they begin to read books. Who is going to play doctor, who is the patient, and what will happen next?!
I am constantly in awe of the power of play-based learning. I could just scream it from the roof-tops: not a minute is wasted on the playground or in the playroom!