Sociodramatic play and child development
Arising out of a concern for the perceived devaluing of social pretend play in both formal early-years educational environments in particular and in wider western society as a whole, this research seeks to identify and categorise some of the potential developmental benefits of this kind of play activity. It locates and describes five areas of development in particular within which sociodramatic play is seen as having an especially positive effect; these are – cognition, linguistic development, social understanding, identity construction/emotional and moral development, and humour/pleasure. Some of the interconnections and overlaps between these various areas of development are also explored. The research adopts an essentially “naturalistic” approach – collecting, collating and analysing fundamentally qualitative data. It seeks to describe the sociodramatic play of four and five year olds within formal educational settings using both video and audio recordings, as well as semi-structured interviews with some of the relevant personnel. The report also endeavours to theorise about certain elements of social pretend play utilising the five areas of development noted above to help structure and inform its analysis. This work seeks to contribute to an “agenda of concern” about the downgrading of social pretend play, concluding that this kind of activity does assist development in the cognitive, linguistic, emotional, moral and social domains.