The value of dressing up in early childhood education

Young children often like dressing up in different costumes and roleplaying as different characters. Dressing up can be a great way to explore some different educational concepts and social skills in a fun and age appropriate way. Here are some tips for parents and carers to help them maximise the educational value of dress up sessions.

Secret powers and language development

One of the fun aspects of dressing up is that characters often have special powers that the person dressing up usually does not have. Exploring why the kid has chosen a certain character and decided on a specific skill such as being invisible or flying can be the start of an interesting chat about what they’d like to be able to do or know. Helping them to explore these ideas can help the kids to develop some planning skills for their play activities as well as develope language skills.

Creative play and role playing social situations

Not all of the characters that kids like to play are totally imaginary. Children often like to have a turn at playing ‘Mummy’ or “Daddy’ or ‘Teacher’. Having the chance to act as an authority figure with an adult can actually be a valuable experience if you can guide them through the reasons that you make certain decisions such as bedtimes or the need for healthy snacks when they are playing in the role of adult. They can often start to understand the reasoning working from the other side and may be able to better comprehend your logic as a result. 

Experimentation and diversity

Many children also experiment in dressing as people of a different gender or religion. This can come across as offensive or scary to some carers, but it is important to use this as a chance to have meaningful conversations with your child about why they are dressing up this way. You can let them know that this may not be appropriate in every situation and help them to understand any questions that they might have about why certain groups or societies adopt certain clothing items to signal their identity. This can be very useful for younger children who may not understand the nuances of certain clothing choices such as head veils and long skirts without concrete experiences.

Dressing up can be a great way for young children to understand many educational experiences. The extra guidance of parents and carers can help transform casual play experiences into meaningful opportunities for learning in your early childhood education setting. 

For more information on how to teach your child while they are young, talk with education centers in your area, such as Hopskotch Kindergarten.