What do babies learn through role play?
Watching a baby’s development and growth is truly fascinating, something that I do miss since my own two children have grown up. The time goes too fast and they learn at such a rapid speed.
So, what are babies learning whilst role playing at home with an adult or sibling or when at a role play session?
Babies are learning how to interact with others which is great for exploring new situations, learning and understanding what words mean, when to use them and they are learning how to use their own voice. For example, you could set up a teddy bears’ picnic at home for your baby with some soft toys and some toy food. By role playing giving one of the soft toys some food, this is fantastic for teaching your baby how to interact with others and the language that you use will develop your baby’s understanding of what words mean and how to use their own voice. Your baby may communicate to you through babbling or a smile or through eye contact. This is all important learning for them and learning through play!
Role play is also great for a baby’s concentration. Babies usually concentrate for short periods before getting tired but as they get older, their concentration develops. Using objects in role play enables babies to develop their concentration in a fun. sociable way with others. For example using bricks to build a tower and then knocking it down. Getting them to focus their attention on the tower and then the fun of knocking it down.
Role play is great for developing a baby’s fine motor skills such as learning to pick up toys and pass a toy from one hand to the other and to reach for toys. As a baby gets older and starts learning to crawl or walk, they are developing their gross motor skills. Role play is fun and encourages babies to want to move and explore the objects in the role play area. Maybe they will be handling toy food and passing it between their hands, or perhaps putting role play items into bags, boxes or bowls. Navigating around the space and holding larger objects like tables, chairs, kitchens and cars.
Just like with older children, role play is great for imitating everyday situations and experiences such as a role play café or a vets or a supermarket. Babies are learning what to do in these situations and discovering how real life works. Although, they are not acting it out or using speech in their play, they are still learning these skills and learning about the world around them.
I am very passionate about babies learning through role play as it was something that I experienced greatly with my little girl who is now 4 years old. I created Pop Up Play Village and started running events when my daughter was 7 months old. I was running events most weekends and she regularly attended play sessions. She grew up with Pop Up Play Village. She especially loved the café which is still one of her favourite play areas today! When she was a baby, she loved the toy food and loved sitting in the café chairs with support. She would spend ages putting different food on her plate and then moving it to other plates and in and out of the box. She was fascinated with it and as she was being weaned at the time, the role play helped with learning how to eat and about different foods. In the construction site, she loved to watch others stacking bricks on top of each other and started to do this herself. She loved knocking down towers too, lots of laughter with this game! One of my best memories of running Pop Up Play Village play sessions when she was little was when she started to learn to walk with one of our construction site wheelbarrows and used it to get to other play areas independently, a very special moment.
Role play for children of all ages is such a powerful and fun way to learn and even from the age of a newborn, learning is taking place. It is fascinating to see children of all ages role playing and all benefiting and learning from it at their own level and developmental need, a great way for children to learn.
Written by Becky Hoare
Creator of Pop Up Play Village