Role Play Accelerates Learning

Children Role Play

Role play accelerates learning when we understand the power of play. Small children learn most of what they know from watching influential adults and other people around them. They then use role play to practise, test and model these behaviours. All children have significant adults who they are more strongly attached to and these key people become their most important role models to mimic new behaviours. The more closely attached a child is to a significant person, the more easily they will learn from him/her and adopt new modelled behaviours.

In the home, young children will spend a lot of time observing adults engage in everyday domestic activities such as cleaning, shopping, cooking, laundry, communications and daily routines. Children will learn from observations but they will learn even more when they are directly involved.

Some of the activities are not realistic. They might be unsafe or not practical and the child’s physical skills might not completely match the task requirements. This is why play becomes a safe way for children to role play and try out these interesting and new things in a protected environment. Toys that mimic these environments and behaviours provide a great opportunity for children to model adult behaviour with objects that are appropriate for their physical size and abilities. These toy objects tend to be safe, smaller, lighter, and sometimes with simplified or exaggerated features to match various ages and abilities.

Children Role Play


Toys that encourage role-play develop communication and social skills between friends and siblings. They act as props for a child’s game and help them develop creativity and imagination as well as problem solving skills. Children are often restricted by rules so, when possible, it is great for them to be able to create their own rules and play sequences. These benefits are even greater if children are playing in pairs, small groups or with an adult. Parents might be surprised what they can learn about their child by getting involved in play and allowing their child to determine the game.

Health and Nutrition

One of the challenges with parenting is the more we understand, the more we feel compelled to do the very best thing for our children. Food and health is an area of stress and a well-documented rise in child-hood obesity has been linked to many factors. Sedentary lifestyles and fast food are often discussed as key causes of health issues. In contrast, anorexia is also a significant and growing problem that is affecting children from an early age. It is a challenge for parents to find the best pathway to help their children grow into healthy adults.

We should know that children will copy our approach to cooking. Role-play with toy food, pretend kitchens and utensils will engage discussion about food and it can increase children’s understanding of the importance of a balanced diet and lifestyle. Even small children can pretend to cut food with play knives and prepare small pieces of play food. These activities can help children explore food habits and develop a healthy, balanced value of good nutrition.

Play with Adult Behaviours

Adult activities in play are a great way for children to learn. Children’s development is driven by a desire to grow up and experience increased independence. By enabling children to feel grown up by practicing everyday adult behaviours, parents are validating their children, their progress and bonding with them during the journey. Shopping, cleaning, fixing things and many other every day activities can be emulated by children. Role-play toys that support and encourage this are invaluable and should be balanced or prioritised in favour of the latest high-tech gadgets and toys we are encouraged to buy. Many life skills that children need as a grown adult are not taught at school. Bonding with children, increasing creativity, imagination and communication skills happen fastest through parents who facilitate role play. These parents are helping their children learn skills that will benefit them when they get older. Role play accelerates learning when encouraged and supported.

Some Great Tips to Encourage Positive Role-Play

  • Make play similar or relevant to activities that you are doing or have done recently.
  • Support and help your child if they are stuck for ideas at the beginning but then step back and let them direct the play.
  • Take directions from your child about the role-play without trying to change them too much or suggest too many of your own ideas.
  • Be enthusiastic about ideas then recognise and praise children for their imagination.
  • Always ask open-ended questions to encourage the the play to progress – (e.g. ‘what shall we do with this box?’ rather than ‘shall I cut the box in half?’).
  • Be creative with toys and other objects – a box doesn’t have to only be used as a box. A box can be a helmet or a drum or a castle or almost anything a child wants it to be.


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CEO and Education Expert Greg Parry

Role Play for Children

Internationally renowned for his expertise in education leadership, Greg Parry’s vast experience includes leadership of projects for edu-cation institutions throughout Australia, the Middle East, the United States, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and China. Recognised for his numerous contributions in the education arena, Greg has received the Ministers Award for Excellence in School Leadership based on improvements in school performance and a range of successful principal training and leadership development programs, as well as the School of Excellence Award for Industry/School Partnerships and the School of Excellence Award for Technology Innovation. His company GSE (Global Services in Education) has been recognised as having the Best Global Brand in International Education in 2015 and 2016.

Considered one of the premier experts in his profession, Greg has trained teachers and principals throughout the world in areas such as critical thinking, language development and leadership. His expertise in school start up projects, leadership and curriculum development, has made him a sought after authority in these disciplines.

Global Services in Education set up and operate schools in all parts of the world. Governed by a philosophy of global citizenship, every member of the GSE team shares a passion to help shape international education and student achievement through inspiration and collaboration.
Our goal is to meet the highest objectives of every school, teacher, student and parent, with an unwavering dedication to quality education, shared ideals and intercultural perspectives.