From the earliest infancy, play is the primary way that children learn and develop. Through play, children eagerly use all the tools they have at their disposal- their bodies, their relationships, and the world around them. Play, more than any other activity, fuels healthy development of young children. It is through play that much of children’s early learning is achieved.
What does play do?
Play is necessary in helping your child to achieve emotional, intellectual, and social growth. Children use play to think and learn about themselves and their relationships with others. But we would be underestimating children if we were to think that all play was just plain old good fun. At times children are sorting through some very complicated and often challenging issues when they play.
Through play children can work things out, form judgements, make choices, solve problems, concentrate, create, and imagine. In other words, children need the experience of play to develop to their full potential.
Children play because it is fun. Play takes many forms, but the heart of play is pleasure. And with pleasure comes the powerful drive to repeat such activities. With repetition comes mastery. And mastery brings a sense of accomplishment and confidence. Children need to learn to play alone, with each other, or within a group.
Through all kinds of play they learn tolerance, patience, sharing, concentration, understanding, manipulation and control. It is important that children are provided with opportunities to play every day.
Through play children can work things out, form judgements, make choices, solve problems, concentrate, create, and imagine.
Stages of play
Children engage in different types of play depending on circumstances, particular needs, and developmental levels.
Types of play include:
Solitary – playing alone and independently, following their own interests without reference to others.
Onlooker – Children who watch other children playing, ask questions and make suggestions, but do not enter play.
Parallel – playing the same activity or with similar materials beside each other, but not talking or interacting.
Associative – playing with each other, Sharing similar materials and activities in an unorganised way.
Cooperative – working together and interacting, to play or create something in an organised and purposeful way.
Each stage serves a purpose as the child moves towards more socialised play.