All the Types of Play We Fit in a Day at Forest Lake Childcare

Childcare Forest Lake

All work and no play? Hardly!

At Early Birds Education & Childcare, play IS work and it’s essential to building children’s creativity and imagination, as well as other learning skills and dispositions.

Whether it’s simply rolling a ball back and forth or dressing up in an astronaut costume, children develop important social skills which allow them to succeed at school and beyond.

What types of play encourage this advancement you ask? Well, ALL of them!

Sociologist, Mildred Parten breaks down the types of play into six different categories:

Unoccupied Play

Unoccupied play, which is common in young toddlers, refers to activity when a child doesn’t seem to be ‘playing’ at all.

They may be engaged in seemingly random movements with no objective.

Despite appearances, this IS play, as they’re exploring their senses within the settings around them.

Solitary or Independent Play

This one is pretty self-explainatory, it’s when children play alone.

This type of play is important because it teaches a child how to keep themselves entertained, eventually setting the path for self-sufficiency and confidence in one’s self.

Any child can play independently, but this type of play is the most common in younger children around ages two or three.

Onlooker Play

Onlooker play is when a child simply observes other children playing and doesn’t partake in the action.

This is very common in younger children who are working on developing their vocabulary.

This is nothing abnormal and is usually due to the fact that the child feels shy or is the youngest in the room and just wants to take a step back for a while.

Either way, they’ll come to the party in their own time, in their own way, once they feel that they’ve learned the ‘rules’.

Parallel Play

Put two three-year-olds in a room together and this is what you’re likely to see; two children happily playing side by side in their own little world.

It doesn’t mean that they don’t like one another, they’re actually quite happy to be in each other’s company.

Despite having little social interaction with each other, children who parallel play actually learn quite a bit from their counterpart. This includes, ‘taking turns’, mutual respect and certain movements they didn’t know about playing independently.

While it appears children partaking in parallel play aren’t paying attention to each other, they actually are, and they often end up mimicing the other one’s behaviour.

Associative Play 

Slightly different from parallel play, associative play also features children playing separately from one another, but in this mode of play, they are more involved with what the other is doing.

Think, children building a ‘city’ with blocks. As they build their individual buildings, they are talking to one another and engaging with each other. This is an important stage of play because it helps little ones develop a whole host of skills, including socialisation, problem solving, cooperation, collaboration and language development.

Associative play is how children begin to make real friendships.

Cooperative Play

This is where all the stages come together and children truly start playing together. Whether they’re building a puzzle, playing a board game or participating in an outdoor group activity, this is the type of play which sets the stage for future interactions as they mature into young adults.

This type of play is common in older kindy children, or younger kindy children who have older siblings or have been around a lot of children before.

Cooperative play brings all of the social skills a child has been working on and puts them into action.

Are you thinking of OTHER types of play that don’t fit into these categories? So are we! Remember, we said ALL types of play contribute to a child’s healthy development.

Once children have established their ability to particpate in cooperative play, you will start to see:

Dramatic/Fantasy Play 

Got a kid who loves to play dress up?  Or how about “doctor” or “restaurant”, or even “house”?

These forms of play not only give a child’s imagination a fantastic workout, but they also allow for further language development, as well as enabling children to understand the roles of people in their greater community.

Competitive Play

Whether they are competing with their sibling at ‘Snakes and Ladders’, or playing on a local soccer team, your child is engaging in competitive play.

This type of play is important because it enables children to better comprehend rules, develop patience and in many cases (when playing sports) massively improve gross motor skills.

During competive play, children learn to be part of a team, as well as learn the appropriate response to ‘winning’ and ‘losing’.

Constructive Play 

Building with blocks, making a road for toy cars, or constructing a fort out of couch pillows are all forms of constructive play.

Not only do children love spending hours participating in constructive play, but they learn manipulation, how to fit things together and improve their cognitive skills, as they figure out how to make something work best.

This is fantastic for healthy brain and fine motor skill development!

So, now that you know the importance of play, you might want to take a tip from your child and get PLAYING!

Remember, it’s good for you 🙂

Yours in Education & Childcare,
Early Birds E & C