Why Dramatic Play? Improving Literacy
We’re in a time where teachers are “teaching to the test” as early as kindergarten. Parents feel pressured to have their children perform academically. The result is a move to skip play time and get those kids hitting the books for “serious” learning. We’re moving away from a rich, valuable development opportunity in play time. We need to stop feeling guilty when our kids play and understand this is not just fun, it is important.
Let’s take a look at the impact of dramatic (pretend) play in a series of short articles highlighting the rainbow of benefits. Today’s benefit – improving literacy.
Dramatic play supports literacy in a fun and creative way. Think about it. How often do children act out scenes from their favorite book? Acting out the characters gives them a better understanding of the story and personalities of the characters. The long-term benefit is improvement in reading comprehension. Research supports this benefit. I also believe if children enjoy the experience of the book they will read more. I don’t know if research supports the fun aspect, but it certainly followed with my kids. If they acted out the book, they wanted to read it again. And again. Parents can encourage this behavior by asking children to act out a book they have just read. Keep up the cycle!
Pretend play can also use reading and writing skills as part of the scene. Children playing “server” and restaurant will likely make a menu, post today’s specials and take down customer orders. It helps children bring the functional skills of reading and writing to life. From the receipt at the restaurant, to street signs, to a doctor’s note for their doll, children can explore reading and writing in a variety of settings.