Play is an important component in your child’s development. There is a whole lot of stuff happening when a child role plays—skills are developed, imagination is stimulated and your child learns social skills. Taking a turn and sharing are the golden rules of any classroom. Academically the sky’s the limit. Verbal skills, math skills, and problem solving all improve with role playing. But most importantly, role playing can help your child navigate through a new situation with greater ease. And one of the most anxiety-filled new situations in your child’s life is going to school for the first time.
Books and videos are a great way to introduce your child to a new situation. I Have Butterflies in My Tummy is our video that provides a wonderful tool for both you and your child. When we know what to expect our anxiety goes down. Charlie’s First Day gives parents cues on how to prepare their child the night before school and children get a live real-life view of what happens in the classroom. We’re offering a special gift to our readers. Check out the bottom of the article for a coupon to get our video for free!
Role playing is another great way of helping your child over those first day jitters. Set up a pretend classroom and get your child involved in making some of the props. Invite playmates over and sit back and really enjoy watching your child learn and have fun at the same time. Encourage your child to take turns with their friends being the teacher they’ll spend hours in their pretend school. They can spend as much or little time in each of the scheduled areas. They don’t have to do everything every time, but remember the teacher gets to make the rules!
Pretend Classroom Setup
- Reorganize your kid’s playroom or play space. Make different centers for art, housekeeping, blocks and circle time. Circle time can be as easy as making off an area on the floor with tape. Teaching Mama has a perfect example and shows you exactly what your playroom should look like. Well organized and labeled.
- You will need a child size table and chairs. This is the most important part of the setup. I love this table from Tot Tutors because it looks like the ones you find in a real classroom. You can, of course, use a cocktail table and I am sure you can find something for your child and playmates to sit on.
- Look around the house and find something that you can use for a shelving unit. This can be a DIY or a purchase. This is a great option, and I am sure you could use the storage space afterward.
- You need to fill your bins with art supplies: paper, crayons, scissors, and glue. Glue sticks are a good choice. Kids love watercolors and lots and lots of glitter. Just be prepared for the cleanup.
- Label the bins with just pictures or pictures and words.
- Make a few props and hang on the wall, like a calendar and weather chart. If you don’t want to make them they can be purchased from your local Parent Teacher Store and sometimes during this time of the year you find them at the dollar store. Use this downloadable weather bear and place them in the circle time area. Your kids will love them.
- Don’t forget lunch boxes, backpacks and a place to store them in the pretend classroom.
- Music is always a big part of a preschool curriculum. You can use our songs that will transition your child to circle time, cue them to clean up, shake their butterflies out and sing goodbye at the end of the day. These songs are fun, upbeat and catchy.
How to Start Role Playing
Set up a Classroom Schedule
- Discuss what happens when you enter a classroom with your child.
- Always say hello to your teacher.
- Put your backpack and lunch boxes away in their special place.
- Find a seat at the table which may or may not have your child’s name on it.
- There may be things on the table for you to do, or the teacher may let you make a choice.
- Talk about when it is time to clean up put your things away neatly.
- Discuss what happens in circle time.
- The teacher may call your name and ask you to say here or raise your hand.
- The teacher will have kids take turns with the calendar and weather.
- The teacher may read a book.
- Ask you to share something.
- Play movement games and music.
- You may get to choose a center or the teacher will tell which center you can play in.
- Be a good friend. Share and take turns.
- Clean up when it is time.
- Go to potty and wash your hands
- Unpack your lunch. This is a great skill to teach your child and your kids teacher will love you for it.
- Throw away the trash.
- Recap the day, all the things they did and learned
- Sing an ending song.
One of the most important benefits of role playing is it can help your child understand and feel more secure about a new upcoming event. In the pretend classroom your child will become familiar with the routines and rituals of a preschool classroom. I promise this will help your child’s butterflies fly away, and your butterflies too!