Children are learning about the world around them every waking moment. Imitation is their way of practicing what they see in the examples given by their parents, teachers, and neighbors. A dollhouse is a toy (actually a collection of toys) that fosters imagination and imitation in the growing child. This imaginative play helps with social skills, motor skills, and vocabulary acquisition.
Developing Social Skills
Children are born with a desire to learn and to grow up. They love to do things they see adults doing. While sometimes a child can really use the tools adults use, such as a dish drying towel or a measuring tape, other skills must wait (e.g. driving a car or moving large pieces of furniture.) A doll house allows children to put themselves in imaginary situations before they can do them in real life.
Social skills are developed when the child plays. He or she can create conversations among the doll family members, practicing situations such as parents telling children it is bedtime. The child can decide how to arrange the furniture, park a car in the garage, and invite neighbors over for dinner.
When several children play together, each can take a family role. Pretending to be the parent or interacting with a pretend sibling can help with developing empathy. Negotiating who will be the mother and who will be the daughter can be a complicated social interaction. An alert parent can even overhear things that might call for a later conversation, such as letting the child know how pleased you were that they shared with a guest or took turns with a sibling.
Fine Motor Skills
A small dollhouse is a toy requiring some fine motor skills. Placing small dolls and small furnishings offers practice in grasping and in perceiving spatial relationships such as size and shape. Choose a dollhouse appropriate to your childís age and agility. Large wooden figures with a simple house could work well for a young preschooler, while older kids could handle a house with many rooms and more fragile furnishings and dolls.
Children may also build their own houses or outbuildings using interlocking logs, plastic building bricks, or plain wooden blocks. Such open-ended toys can also be used to add fences around a dollhouse. Children can combine toys in various ways to expand a simple doll house using imagination to create an original “home” – just like adults strive to do!
A dollhouse promotes conversation about all kinds of topics. Children can learn home decorating terms such as sofa, dresser, guest room, and powder room. They can also practice upstairs and downstairs, outdoors and indoors. Colors and shapes and sizes are also dollhouse topics, as a parent can play with a young child and ask questions: “Which room is the blue one? Which room is biggest?”
Children who do not talk much in a classroom setting may talk during dollhouse play. Some children are simply less comfortable in group settings and would prefer to practice talking in a more private setting.
Parents and teachers have a variety of options for providing dollhouse play. If a large playhouse is available, kids can really be inside the house – with or without dolls. Even a small bedroom can accommodate a small dollhouse, as many fold up for storage when playtime is over. The size of the dollhouse is not as important as the opportunity any such house gives to growing children.