Dress-Up Play: A Portal to an Alternate Universe!

Child engaging in imaginative play, dressed up as a pink fairy.

Dress-up play creates the opportunity for a child to design their own story and become anything they want! It is not only a fun-filled experience but can also be considered vital to the skill development of a child. 

Skill development? Yes, this is correct! Be it at playgroup or at home, putting on and taking off capes, clothes and accessories; learning to conquer the task of doing up buttons, zippers and fasteners are all skills that will transfer into a child’s future life. It is a perfect way to build fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. It is also a great opportunity to learn patience and develop a ‘never give up’ attitude! But that is not the only skills children develop. 

Parent supports toddler in imaginative play, securing a racing helmet to their head.

Dress-up play at playgroup allows children to interact with other children, combining their imaginations to create characters and scenarios. Through these play experiences, children are strengthening their social-emotional skills while improving language and problem-solving skills. What is social-emotional learning? This extract from The Spoke – Early Childhood Australia’s Blog – describes it well. 

Birth to school age is the period of greatest growth and development. The early childhood years are not only a time for taking first steps or for saying first words. They are also when, through their relationships with others, children are building expectations about their world and the people in it and are developing their first: 

  • sense of self including feeling good about themselves and what they can do

  • social skills to get along in life with others

  • emotional skills such as recognising, expressing and managing a wide range of feelings. 

These first skills are very important as they form the foundations for children’s ongoing development and affect their mental health and wellbeing, now and into the future. 

Child preparing for imaginative play, pushing cat ear costume back through their hair.

Dress-up at playgroup provides children with a learning environment that connects them to other children, allowing for relationships to be nurtured which can later continue into kindergarten and school. 

Dress-up play at home can be an everyday play experience using much-loved old clothes, costumes, jewellery, hats, household objects, or anything the heart desires! Some of a child’s greatest memories can be made making tents under the kitchen table while wearing their dad’s favourite fishing shirts or making pirate hats from old newspapers. Dress-up play at home can strengthen family relationships, help build a child’s character and develop a sense of safety in the world. It gives children time to nurture current interests and experiment creating a future self. And do not forget, most children will love dressing up then going out to do the food shopping as their favourite character! 

Most importantly, dress-up play is a key opportunity for children to express themselves, mimic others, gain confidence and role play. It plays a vital role in developing communication and language. Dress-up play encourages imagination, creating space for a child to dream and be whoever they wish to be. 

“Good times are never ending when we’re playing and pretending” – Unknown 

Parent tying shoes of child engaged in imaginative play dressed as an astronaut.

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