It is important to know the stages of play that your children go through so that you can add it into their daily routine.
These different stages involve exploring, being creative and having fun. Children who use their imagination and ‘play pretend’ in safe environments like teepees, play-tents and forts. Problem solving, creativity, and willingness to take risks are just a few of the skills developed through playing. While playing, children learn and develop important skills they will continue to use throughout their lifetime.
These stages are general guidelines for what to expect of your child, but remember every child is different and if you have concerns bring them up with your healthcare provider.
Stages of Play: How kids learn
- Solitary Play (Birth-2 Years):
This is the stage when a child plays alone. They are not interested in playing with others quite yet.
- Spectator/Onlooker Behavior (2 Years):
During this stage a child begins to watch other children playing but does not engage with them.
- Parallel Play (2+ Years):
When a child plays alongside or near others but does not play with them this stage is referred to as parallel play.
- Associate Play (3-4 Years):
When a child starts to interact with others, but there is not a large amount of interaction at this stage. A child might be doing an activity related to the kids around him, but might not actually be interacting with another child. For example, kids might all be playing on the same piece of playground equipment but all doing different things like climbing, swinging, etc.
- Cooperative Play (4+ years):
When a child plays together with others and has interest in both the activity and other children involved in playing they are participating in a cooperative way.
While these stages of play are important and necessary for a child’s social development, there are other types of play that also contribute to a child’s maturity. These types of play usually develop as a child begins to engage in cooperative play and include:
Other Types of Play
- Dramatic/Fantasy: When your child who loves to play in a teepee or play tent, dress up, doctor, or restaurant, it’s dramatic or fantasy. Not only does your child’s imagination get a workout, but she learns how to take turns, cooperate, share and work on language development. Through role play, kids are also able to learn about functioning in the greater community.
- Competitive: Whether she’s beating her brother at Chutes and Ladders or playing catch or hide and seek. she is engaging in competitive play. Rules and turn-taking, and functioning as part of a team are the big lessons taken from this type of play. You may have to give your child guidance about dealing with both winning and losing.
- Physical: Gross and fine motor skills really come into play here, whether your child is throwing a ball or riding a bike. Physical play encourages kids to be active.
- Constructive: Forms of constructive play include building with blocks, making a road for toy cars, or constructing a fort out of couch pillows. This teaches kids about manipulation, building, and fitting things together. Cognitive skills are used to figure out how to make something work best, whether it is a block tower that won’t stand up or a sand castle that keeps collapsing.
- Symbolic: This type of play can be vocal (singing, jokes, rhymes), graphic arts (drawing, coloring), counting, or making music. This helps children learn to develop skills in expressing themselves and exploring their experiences, ideas, and emotions.
Source for this stages of play article:
Child Development Institute. https://childdevelopmentinfo.com/child-development/play-work-of-children/pl1/#.WXGHNdPyvBI.