Many thoughts go through your mind before you have your first child. There are certain things that you want to influence and instil in your child from birth. You want their life skills and general development to be on track as best as possible, you want your child to grow up with good manners, excellent social skills and to teach your child that they can be whatever they dream of being, despite their gender.
As a first time parent, it can feel like a minefield on how to approach these teachings correctly and effectively. As we know, parenting doesn’t come with a manual. But, allow us to trust our gut and go with what we feels right, tends to be the best solution.
We are of course guided along the way by experts within the parenting world for baby, toddler and beyond and have a wonderful early learning foundation education at our fingertips for our children from the age of 3. There are many tools which help our children and one of the most effective tools is role play. Providing our children with the opportunity to use their imaginations which allows them to develop social skills.
Sadly, I can hand on heart say at the beginning of my parenting journey, I assumed that playing with dolls meant I was subjecting my children, down a stereotypical gender path. I thought that if they played with dolls they wouldn’t be interested in anything else that may be classed as “boyish”. It’s definitely a grey area although many brands are getting on board with gender equality.
But I was wrong about all the expectations I had about playing with dolls. They played with dolls at their first nursery when they were two years old and around friends houses by which point; they didn’t have any at home. They started to point and ask for dolls when we went out shopping. I decided that I would buy them dolls but I was also adamant they would play with other toys too. They have a selection of farm animals, dinosaurs, dress up clothes from Stormtrooper, Pirates and Princesses, books, puzzles, development toys, wooden toys etc. you get the gist. It’s a versatile mix of toys.
Eventually, they ended up with prams, pushchairs, dolls, baby changing bags and accessories. I soon realised the benefits of playing with dolls.
For anyone confused about how dolls benefit our child’s development despite gender, I have listed below the top reasons your child should be playing with dolls. Immersing your child, into small world play such as playing with dolls, allows them to develop imaginative skills and to express themselves whilst exploring the world in which they live.
I have extracted from the Early Years Careers Site the following benefits to hone in on the point that playing with dolls is important for your child’s development.
Why Small World Play is Important
Small world is an important aspect of children’s play, aiding many areas of development. Imaginative skills are supported allowing the child to express thoughts and experiences into their play, whilst exploring the world in which they live. Small world also offers the opportunity for children to build on their language skills, expanding their vocabulary and their understanding. This type of play not only supports a range of areas for development, but also benefits the child’s independent play skills.
Children use their own experiences of the world to build on their imaginative skills. Small world play offers the opportunity for children to act out these experiences in a controlled way. Small world environments allow children to act out daily routines or past events such as putting a doll to bed or driving a car, however it also allows them to experiment with fantasy play and incorporate their own ideas
Building Language Skills
Small world supports a breadth of language skills including building vocabulary and understanding. Children are able to learn new words and practise using them in context. Expressive language skills can be encouraged through a small world experience, allowing the child to narrate their play and talk about what is happening. Positional language will often be a factor in this type of play, as a child move the people in, on and under objects.
Small world play offers the opportunity for children to access independent play. They may play alongside other children but they tend to be engrossed in their own play. This is important in giving the child time alone to gather their thoughts and express their ideas without any input from others. Independent play is vital in gaining self confidence and awareness of a child’s self.
Problem Solving Skills
Problem solving skills are key due to the nature of the play. Scenarios can often change and adapt, enabling the child to think of new ideas or ways to extend the play. Resources are a range of sizes and scales meaning a doll may not fit into a small world car. This can lead a child to display a range of emotions and use their problem solving skills to fix the problem and continue the play successfully.
Cause and Effect
Children will often learn a great deal about cause and effect through small world as they have a great deal of control over the play. This allows them to experiment with different actions, leading them to understand different outcomes. This allows a safe environment for the children to practise cause and effect without great consequences.
This applies to all children regardless of gender. After all, a boy will eventually become a brother, father, uncle or grandparent. Presenting our children with as many positive life experiences is crucial for their development.
As I have mentioned above, my two children really love playing with dolls, they have various types ranging from small to large. Small world play is very apparent in their life and they really do enjoy role play. So you can imagine their excitement when I told them that we were invited to a Baby Born Wonderland party at the Queens Ice Rink in London. They already have a huge fascination for London, as they know mummy travels to London for work.
On the day, we took a train over to central London and got a black cab to the venue. We arrived a little late but still had time to craft our own fairy wands and tiaras. They were in craft heaven with all the jewels and beads. We were then invited to have a skate on the ice rink – something the girls have wanted to do for ages. They were very excited about getting on the ice, in their skates. They did really well at skating for the first time, which also bodes well for our first skiing trip at Christmas. After our time on the ice, the girls were kindly gifted a Baby Born Wonderland Fairy Rider Doll from the amazing team who organised the event. They haven’t stopped playing with her since and I love the way they care for her. They tuck her up into bed each night, sing her lullabies and give her a kiss. It’s so heartwarming to watch. They’ve even made their dolls their own beaded bracelet – all the feels, right?
Here are a few pictures from our day.
Disclaimer: This is a collaborative post.