Cosplay for Kindergartners
Costume play builds young brains!
Think fast! What are some of your earliest playtime memories? Did you play Cops and Robbers? Pirates? Pretend to be a ballerina or a princess? Maybe you and a friend held a tea party, complete with tiaras, boas and Momma’s high heels, or you were a mechanic, a plumber or a chef, complete with the appropriate imaginary gear.
Some of my favorite playtime memories include pretending I was a princess and playing house. We didn’t have the amazing costume options available now, but my brothers and I still had a tremendous amount of fun when we added a sheet to our backs to be a superhero (Superman and Batman were very popular back then), or picked up a stick and pretended we were Luke Skywalker as he battled Darth Vader.
I say all that not to date me (though it does!), but to emphasize that playing dress-up is incredibly important for a child’s brain development. I also want to note that one does not have to be rich to provide children with a wealth of costuming possibilities.
Encouraging dress-up play, also known as “cosplay” in modern-day parlance, helps your child develop in many ways, but here are just a few:
Dress-up play helps children develop imagination in ways that they can use throughout childhood and into adulthood. Making costumes out of various bits of clothes around the house is one of the first ways children can practice creativity.
When children put themselves into another’s figurative (and sometimes literal) shoes, they are pretending and exploring how others might feel in different situations – a hallmark of empathy.
Communication and vocabulary-building are key elements of role-playing. A child must learn proper terms to role-play certain professions. Children also learn how to take turns and effectively communicate who plays which part in their scenario. Children might want to play the good guy one time and the bad guy at other times. Cooperative play such as this helps them explore non-traditional roles and expand their sense of themselves in the future. (What would it be like to be a firefighter?)
Gross and Fine Motor Skill Development
Putting costumes on and taking them off helps children learn how to fasten buttons and zippers, tie shoes, and more. These actions, along with wielding props, help smaller hands become more adept at those motor skills.
Sense of fun
If a child messes up a vital costume element and learns to laugh about it, this helps build a healthy sense of fun. They learn if they make a mistake, they can either fix it and move on or just live with the costume mistake.
One might think an entire room filled with costuming options is necessary, but that’s not true at all. A well-stocked dress-up trunk can include any of the following: scarves, bandanas, boas, long necklaces, tutus, sunglasses, hats of all kinds, a scientist coat, goggles, an apron, a plastic sword, eye patches, and masks, all of which can be found for cheap from garage sales or free from family members. Simply add additional items and take away others as your child needs for variety and changing interests. Fancy costumes can be visually stunning, but they don’t offer the same boost to creativity that having spare parts to be used in multiple ways does.
One more thing:
Don’t let your child have all the fun! Cosplay sparks imagination and creativity in children of all ages. So embrace your inner child and have fun creating costumes. I know I do!