Children at Play

Children’s work is play. Through every type of play, your child is honing one or the other skill.  The description “child’s play” might not be so apt, because while spending time at play, your child is learning how to control and interact with his environment. Play can be challenging emotionally, socially, intellectually and physically.  Playing evolves over time, becoming more mature as certain skills are acquired.

We find 6 different kinds of play , but elements of these types do overlap with each other.  This classification makes it easier to identify toys and tools that would assist in these kinds of playing.

  1. Active Play : As the name indicates, active play involves moving and physical activity. When children are active, they are running, riding, building, swinging or even kicking. During active play the child gets physically challenged. Through active play the gross and fine muscles are exercised and an integration of muscles, nerves and brain functions takes place. Toys that promote physical activity are balls, bikes, bats, playground equipment, trampolines, jumping castles and rackets.
  2. Cooperative Play : Cooperative play happens when two or more children interact in game that gives mutual pleasure.  This involves group play and can be inside or outside. This type of play is important in your child’s development, seeing that children learn through watching other children interact in a positive social manner.  Children learn acceptable social interaction through pretend play.  Type of games that require cooperation are sports, board games and pretend play.
  3. Creative Play : This type of play includes all kinds of imaginative games, constructive games, music, dance, building, painting, molding and other crafts.  Play dough, pencils, paint, building blocks and musical instruments will stimulate creative play.  Do make sure to provide the appropriate equipment and environment, otherwise your little painter might use your walls for his masterpiece. Creative play is the type of play which gives children a sense of accomplishment and empowers them to become good at manipulating words, ideas and concepts.
  4. Dramatic Play : Again, this type of play is built on the imaginative powers of the young ones.  It entails make-believe, dress-up, dolls and puppets.  Through dramatic play children start role-playing often imitating social interactions and scenes that they have seen before.  Dramatic play requires flexible thinking and future oriented thought.  Children can live out their experiences and dreams in a risk free environment.
  5. Manipulative Play : Manipulative play involves the development of hand-eye coordination and finer motor skills.  Children use tools to color and cut and manipulate pieces of a puzzle to fit.
  6. Quiet Play : This is the type of play that gives parents a breather.   Children intellectually engages in reading or paging through books, building puzzles or blocks or maybe even beading.  Quiet play gives your child a chance to think and reason, with his mouth closed and his mind open.

Children’s play develop through different stages:

  1. Uninvolved Play : During this type of play the child does not seem to be playing, but merely keeps himself busy through watching anything that he finds interesting.  If he cannot find anything in the environment that fascinates him, he will play with his own body, climb on and off furniture or just sits in the room looking around.
  2. Solitary Play: Here the child plays on his own with toys and does not try to make contact with other children.  He carries on on his own, despite what other children might be doing.
  3. Spectator Play : The child watch other children playing.  Even though he might be asking questions and talk to these children, he does not participate in their game.
  4. Parallel Play : Here the child plays independently next to other children, but not with them.  They might even be playing with similar toys, but no interaction takes place between the children.
  5. Associative Play : Finally the child starts playing with other children. Talking is the most common activity, but the passing of toys to each other and also following each others cars or dolls take place.  The child still does what he feels like, not taking the other one’s wishes into consideration.
  6. Cooperative Play : Children play in groups organized to reach a certain goal – the making of something or winning a formal game (hide and seek).  The children accepts certain role responsibilities and sees the group as an exclusive group with its own identity

Even though play might from the outside look meaningless and a frivolous spending of time, different types of play equip children for the expectations held for older children and adults in our society.  It is therefore important to encourage a variety of play, maybe even  a variety of playmates to help children develop optimily.  Play is hard work for children.

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