Yesterday, I shared that I had met Superman actor Dean Cain and we’d talked about play. Did you know that superhero play, besides being fun and exciting for kids, has lots of opportunities for learning? When kids play superheros, they get to pretend they are brave and special. No wonder it’s so appealing. Even adults like to feel that way. Here are just a few aspects of superhero play.
Superhero play is active and the movement and physical involvement are important for learning, both for bodies and brains. When kids are physically active, they are using problem-solving skills such as how to get from one spot to another as fast as possible. This can include figuring out the body’s position in space, when and how to move around objects, what body part to move before others, and so on. The brain is making pathways and connections that will be used for in other kinds of learning, such as language, predicting, comparing, etc.
Superhero play gives kids an opportunity to practice social skills and self-control. Kids need to learn how much action is okay and how much is too much as they engage with others. there can be lots of negotiation as kids decide who is going to have which super powers. Controlling impulses is a self-regulation skill that can be challenging to learn. Kids might want to use their super fast running but they have to save the warp speed for outside where there’s lots of space and slow down in the house.
Often, superheros need to come to the rescue. Caring for others is an important value we all want children to have. Superheros may have a quest or a mission. This helps kids learn the valuable life lesson that actions in the present may not have their reward until some time in the future.
These are just a few of the reasons why superhero play has a role in early childhood development. Does your child have a favorite superhero?