Young children struggle to understand the world and their role in it. How does a child, as young as 4, make sense of the sensations that form their daily lives? The answer may not be what you think it is. It is clear that for a child, the most effective teacher is play.
And perhaps the most effective form of play is role-playing in which a child pretends to be someone else: a mother, a father, an astronaut, or a football star. Role-playing gives the child the ability to see the world from another perspective. In a caring and nurturing environment, role-playing can teach empathy and respect.
As the child grows, play can become more involved and complex. Playful interactions with others become more common with shared imaginations and roles. In cooperation with friends, children begin to make sense of their world and work through their fears and anxieties.
Parents: turn off the television and the Internet and join in the fun. There are few more rewarding experiences than playing with your child; through your play, you teach, your child learns, and sometimes your child teaches you too.