Playacting- (dramatic play)


One particular two-year old in our school frequently roams the school wearing the eye-patch of a pirate shouting to others, "Aarrr matey!"  Today, she surprised us all by mixing it up a bit.  Sporting a lion costume, she ran into the room, took one giant leap with a wide-stance landing and exclaimed, "Aarrr cock-a-doodle-moose!" 

Aaaah...the power of dramatic play!

Playacting- a piece from The Power of Play by David Elkind, Ph.D.

Children's playacting is a direct descendant of therapeutic play, in which the child sees the imaginary child and the self as entirely separate.  But in playacting, the child accepts the fact that she is playing a different role.  Play becomes another way in which children further their undertanding of rules and the concept that one thing can be two things at the same time.  While my wife and I were having lunch at an outdoor restaurant, we observed a good example of playacting.  A child at the next table got up, put a napkin on his arm, and approached his parents to take their order.  The was not practicing to be a waiter anymore than a child playing doctor is practicing to be a doctor.  The child has little or no awareness of what skills are required to be a waiter or doctor.  In playacting, the child is taking the role with all the authority and prerogatives of the adult, and this is its true meaning.  He understands that you can play at being an adult while remaining a child.  As parents we should encourage and support this kind of healthy dramatic play.  Here are some suggestions from gifted Educator Ruth Almon for facilitating children's dramatic play.

Thus the playing of parts is very important, and it is up to us to support and to facilitate this.  Let us accordingly always give something to our children or our grandchildren for their "theatre trunk" or "dressing up drawer."  A discarded lace dress, an old top hat, a piece of beautiful red material for a royal cloak (or superhero cape), a piece of gold lame, some cord and that old blue curtain, cast off costume jewelry- let us be ready at any time to cater for further props:  a knight's breastplate can be made from old cardboard boxes with a stapler; a nurse's cap may be needed when the dolls have fallen ill, or even if one is allowed to take the odd thing to Father when he is ill-for a nurse such service is her raison d'etre, whereas a little daughter can become tired of it.