When you arrive at the nursery to collect your child and you are greeted by a whirling tornado of superheroes – I imagine what you and I see are completely different!

You see children charging around, lots of noise and maybe even a little aggression and may question why the children are not sitting down learning to write?

I see children exploring thoughts and imagination, experimenting with feelings and emotions they may not yet be able to communicate or question fully.

Play allows for many opportunities to develop language and speech, children do a lot of talking and listening while playing. This helps build vocabulary and confidence. Whether playing alone or together, making up characters or pretending to be a superhero. The more children are engaged in play, the more interactions they form and the better the quality of these interactions become.

Every time a child takes a scarf and declares it a witch’s cape or Batman suit, they say “I am the goodie, you’re the baddie” or even points a stick gun at you, he or she is learning.

Play, especially the kinds that involve make-believe, stretches a child’s imagination. Whenever a child creates stories around the roles he or she creates for them self or their playmate, they’re learning to think and create outside the box, in ways beyond their world.

Through Superhero play, not only do children get to use their imagination, but they learn how to take turns, cooperate, share and work on language development, they are able to learn about the greater community.

Young children become familiar with the concepts of goodness and fairness and act out these themes through play. Nursery practitioners and parents can help distinguish between powerful behavior that hurts individuals and actions that benefit others. Researchers such as Pelavin stress, “Helping children to find their own positive superheroes and talking about their attributes can be a wonderful starting point. Parents and teachers can explain that true superheroes solve problems without violence. True superheroes are the people who are courageous and do things to help others.”

Pretending to be Batman or Superman is also an opportunity for children to try different personalities. While they may be intimidated to share their ideas on their own, as superheroes some children find it easier to express differing opinions. Pelavin adds, “By taking on another persona, the child can practice responding positively to fearful and anxiety-producing situations, such as teasing and bullying. Often children disclose aspects of themselves that they might not reveal without this type of fantasy play.”

During these sessions Practitioners would introduce new “Powers” such as supersonic listening ears, or Giant gentle kind hands. The list of learning is endless!

So when you collect your child today and are bombarded with noise, running and a creative orchestra of gun sounds, remember we are teaching them some of the most crucial skills to help them become confident lifelong learners.