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Measuring developmental milestones through role play

A key part of education is to teach children through our lived experiences different ways to understand that each person has a specific set of needs that can be met in very different ways.

Written by: Joanne Harris Educational Advisor  

There is an endless number of stimuli that we are bombarded with daily, in every environment we spend time in. As adults, we have the skill to be able to select where we work and play. In the warmer months, we are generally more aware of how we feel as we respond to the temperature. For many, it is a time to relax and enjoy the holiday season and enjoy a slower pace of life that reflects this.

A key part of education is to teach children through our lived experiences different ways to understand that each person has a specific set of needs that can be met in very different ways. For some people, a change in temperature will not have much effect on their behaviour, but for others, it seems to make no difference. Meeting the unique needs of a group of individuals can present its own set of challenges - however, with a focus on a deep understanding of simple human biology and physiology, every member can learn easy ways to provide comfort and relief. 

Measuring developmental milestones through role play

Children are continuously learning from their interactions with others and the world around them. Focusing specifically on children engaged in role-play, they can easily explore concepts of self-care by adding a few carefully chosen accessories that mirror skills they are learning when nurturing their babies. Adding items such as hair brushes, baby bottles, bedding, and a potty can assist with recognising where children are placed in their own development. given time and frequent opportunities, children can transfer this knowledge when taking care of their own needs.

Including doll bedding and small items can encourage them to re-enact their own experience with being taken care of by their families and educators. Providing dolls clothing that matches the current season is also a meaningful way to generate interest and discussions about the world around them, which could include learning more about their own clothing preferences. 

Building Self-Confidence and Agency can be embedded within daily routines

Sharing their understanding of developmental milestones between educators during the reflection process can be deepened to include conversations that support recognising and identifying the feelings and emotions of children in different situations. Knowing what to 'expect' makes it easier to plan activities that feel positive and affirm children's sense of self.

Children are learning through each opportunity to develop their physical, cognitive, and social skills. Each time they are supported to become a part of the tasks associated with keeping them happy and healthy, such as when eating, dressing, or resting, educators and families can nurture this by allowing children an element of choice. 

Pouring their own drink from a jug, serving a portion of food at lunchtime, choosing where to place their sleep mat  at rest time, or even applying their sunscreen before heading outside are important examples of children developing self-confidence and care for themselves.



Affirming Children's Competence and Wellbeing with Self Care practices

An important part of self-regulation is that it starts with learning through positive modelling, which includes adults trusting children to practice the implementation of these lifelong skills. Introducing a set of Affirmation Cards to a group time conversation is a concrete way to explore the names of feelings and when they may be applied to everyday learning. Helping children to see feelings represented visually and accompanied by positive statements, can help them to make the connections between thoughts and words as well as the effect on their minds and bodies.

Rolling out play dough with Emotions Rollers, children could be given another opportunity to discover how and when emotions may arise in their lives through planned or spontaneous conversations with peers and educators. Playing games such as healthy-sometimes-food-game can lead to discussions relating how eating well and being active supports good overall physical and emotional health, including how it can affect the way we feel about ourselves. Using pretend fruit as a prop for demonstrating how to make tasty meals or vegetables  to show their health benefits and adding them to the role-play area allows children to explore this learning independently.

For more ideas and information about implementing play that supports mindfulness and well-being in your program please visit our Educator Resouces page at




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