Not too long ago a friend was visiting with her daughter, as our two little girls played they would dress-up with heels, scarfs, hats, purses, jewelry and lipgloss' as well as nail polish.
At our household dress-up has been always allowed. From princess dresses to Doctor coats to animal headbands to stroller with dolls. We even have a bin in our toy chest exclusively for everything to dress-up. Of course all of it's contents are designed with kids in mind. Except for a pair of red heels that just to belong to my grandmother that were given to my daughter when great-grandma passed away over the summer with the intention of her feeling she could still play with grandma...
As far as I can remember from my own childhood I would always play house with my sister. I was always the "banker" or "business owner" and she was always the mommy with more than one kid to take care of. Funny how life has switched those roles on us. I am in my adult life the mom with two kids and she is the successful purchaser at a company. Peculiar isn't it?
It was a surprise when my friend was upset over her daughter pretending to be a mom with the complete accessories. Playing or shall I say pretending to be an adult was something my friend didn't allow her daughter to do. It honestly puzzled me, mostly due to the fact that role play provides more benefits than not. It essential to development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social and emotional well-being of children. And in case you didn't know it's a right of every human being according to the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights.
In 2001 the No Child Left Behind Act took center stage for many schools, reducing free play time in an effort to increase academics such as Mathematics and Reading.
Play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity and physical, cognitive and emotional strength. It is important to healthy brain development. Moreover, it is that through play children at a very early age engage and interact in the world around them. It allows children to create and explore a world they can master, conquering their fears while practicing adult roles, sometimes in conjunction with other children or adult caregivers.
Going back to that day, I still can't understand why my friend was so upset and even told her daughter to play something else. When I asked her why, she simply told me that she wanted to 4 year old to enjoy her childhood. Despite all the benefits above mentioned, time for free play has been reduced significantly. Some by choice others by our busy schedules that have us marching from one activity to the other. Leaving more time for academics than play. Even for Kindergartners.
I can only hope that every child is allowed to role play and by this they can choose what they would like to be when they grow up to become adults.