"There are numerous benefits to playing dress-up. Play in general is essential for children. It’s how they learn and interact with the world. It helps them to manage stress and to build positive relationships.
Dressing up is a form of imaginative play — and imaginative play boosts problem-solving and self-regulation skills. Kids create situations and scenes and act out social events. They’re able to test out new ideas and behaviors in a comfortable environment.
Dress-up encourages creative thinking and communication skills. It also helps kids practice language development and their social skills. Playing with another child or adult requires teamwork, cooperation, and sharing.
The act of putting on and taking off costumes or outfits also has physical benefits. The buttons, zippers, and snaps on clothing encourage the development of fine motor skills.
“Children are stretching their imaginations through different identities and occupations in dress up and practicing their gross and fine motor skills,” Aronian says.
Further, she points out the variety of physical, emotional, cognitive, and sensory exercises involved in play. From buttoning a jacket to negotiating roles and engaging in teamwork, learning opportunities abound. And they can be further developed with a little extra effort.
As Aronian suggests, “There are many opportunities to expand literacies by talking about the dress-up scenarios that children fashion.”
Asking questions about the characters or scenes they’ve created and encouraging them to talk through their play helps them to build conversational skills. She also encourages writing down and posting their new vocabulary in their play space.