Teacher-Child Interactions and Dramatic Play: Stories from Three Continents and Three Cultures
Dramatic play involves children choosing roles and acting them out. Teachers assume a variety of roles in providing an environment wherein children pretend to be a different people, in different roles, or even something that is not a person. The benefits of dramatic play revealed in previous research include improvements in children’s cognitive, social, and emotional development. Bronfenbrenner’s Bioecological Theory (1994; Bronfenbrenner & Morris, 2007) and Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Theory (1978; 1986) frame the current discussion. Children become empowered through dramatic play as they learn to consider the perspectives of their classmates, and as they negotiate and balance ideas from other children. This paper focuses on the design, development, and enhancement of dramatic play in early childhood settings in three different countries within three different continents (Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and the United States). The authors provide stories within classrooms from these countries and describe how each situation reveals cultural differences in play, and how the new understandings impacted both the teachers and the children’s subsequent actions and thinking. Conclusions describe the bi-directional benefits of play for children and teachers.
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