Part of what we are striving to build here at Playplus is to put together quality resources that help with Early Childhood Education. We have put a lot of focus on puzzles to start with and we are continually reviewing and assessing other learning/teaching aids so that we can bring the best together here on our site. As you can probably guess, this is no easy task and takes a lot of time and effort. So while we are working away in the background, we thought it would be valuable to reflect on childhood play and why it is important (and why we are putting together the kinds of tools and toys that we do):
Why do children need play?
Play helps childre develop key skills, including social, emotional, cognitive and physical skills. Play is also a key towards the learning of effective communicaton in children. Through play, children learn to problem solve and resolve conflict. The play environment is a safe one for children in which they can test, practice and refine their skills. These skills are all key skills used by adults on a daily basis and imaginative play forms the foundation for this kind of learning.
Types of play
Onlooker play This typeof play is seen more often in toddlers as they watch other children at play. Children need time to move through this stage, as they come to terms with the concepts and gain in confidence.
Parallel play is also usually seen with younger children. Children play near but not with other children.
Associative play is seen more often in the older age group when children are beginning to understand how to work or play with other children. Children learn how to share and to use language when they want something, rather than just taking things they want as toddlers often do.
Cooperative play this type of play is seen with the older age group. The children are involved in the play and each has a role or equal part in contributing to the game. They will often negotiate their role, for example ‘You be the father and I’ll be the baby’.
‘Play with rules’this type of play develops as children become more interested in rules and formal games. They may make up their own rules when pretend playing or play by the rules of the game. Play with rules can become competitive.
Other kinds of play
Exploratory play children are curious and want to know how things work, what things do etc. To support this type of play let the children play with everyday objects and natural materials, rather than man-made or commercial toys.
Quiet play when children prefer to be involved in more relaxing or less robust play: reading, listening to music or doing puzzles. You might want to encourage this play when children are tired or getting overstressed or excited.
Manipulative play where children use both their hands and their minds. This is important for the overall development and integration of physical skills including
brain function. Examples are simple puzzles, nesting cups, pegboards and playdough.
Creative play when children are involved in creative activity. Experiences include painting, drawing, building, using clay, or making all sorts of creations using the materials around them.
Pretend or imaginative play when children take on another role. They could be animals, people, superheroes or other fantasy creatures.
Dramatic play when children develop a deeper understanding of their lives and use their knowledge and understanding as they act or role-play another person or event. Often children will engage in dramatic play to help them overcome fear, for example if going
Superhero play this is a kind of dramatic play where children take on the role of the latest superhero. If you talk about how superheroes help people and different ways of doing this, you can often reduce the level of aggressive play and encourage children to think about what the play means. Make sure that other children who don’t want to play these games have a safe, quieter place to play.