Thematic play is an extremely valuable part of our daily routine. Here are just some of the benefits.
Relief from Emotional Tension
As adults, we tend to cope with a traumatic event by retelling the event over. Children, however, tend to replay the event in their thematic play rather than talk about it. For example, if a child visits the dentist, he or she is likely to ‘play going to the dentist’ afterwards with friends, dolls, etc.
Children feel Powerful
When children re-enact experiences, they tend to put themselves in a position of power. They may choose to play the mummy or daddy, the most powerful people in their lives.In thematic play, the child can control all events, and wishes can come true.
Thematic play encourages children to put themselves in someone else’s shoes. This role-playing allows them to become better able to do this in real life, thus helping them to demonstrate important social skills such as empathy.
Expressive language is encouraged in an environment where children are motivated to make their wishes known to others and also speak from within their pretend roles.
Use of Symbols
Thematic play allows children to develop an understanding of symbols. For example, a doll becomes a symbol for a baby; a slip of paper may become money. With such opportunities to create and use symbols, children will gradually become better able to utilize other symbols, like letters and numbers.
Differentiate Between Fantasy and Reality
Thematic play also allows children to differentiate between real and pretend. One can readily see this when observing children using exaggerated voices to signal that they are playing their roles or in the child that announces, “It’s just pretend.” It may seem as though a child ho has spent several hours engaged in thematic play has just been “playing around” and has nothing concrete to show for it. On the contrary, the kind of play where a child takes on a role and learns to interact from within that role is very valuable to his or her development.