What are the types of play?

What are the types of play?

2021-02-16T07:31:20+00:00September 10th, 2020|

Albert Einstein once said, “Play is the highest form of research.”

Children learn while they play and most importantly, in playing, children learn how to learn. It also gives the children a chance to practice what they are learning. Play is so powerful that even pediatricians are recommending play as an essential factor of a healthy brain development.

As teachers and as parents, we want nothing but the best for our children. We want them to grow and develop as fun, loving, smart and independent children. The only best way to start is by playing. Playing can be done in a million forms. It is so versatile that playing can be different things to different children. For some, playing is writing. While for others, playing is running in the park, getting soaked under the heat of the sun. Some might think playing is just by simply being messy. All of these are different forms play.

We admit that sometimes playing with our children can be tiring and troublesome. Imagine cleaning up all the mess and wiping all the pen markers on the wall. However, this is how they learn. And we should let know learn and play on their own pace.

If you’re wondering what the different types of play are and how can we facilitate play better with our children, keep reading below:

  1. Unoccupied play – This is mostly to newborns and infants. The term unoccupied play

refers to activity when a child actually isn’t playing at all. Yes, you read that right. We may see babies just looking at us or something, but they are already starting to be engaged just by simply staring at random movements, with no objectives at all. This is actually the first step for them to set the stage for future play exploration.

  1. Solitary (independent) play – This is when a child likes to play alone. This type of play teaches our children to entertain himself/herself. This type of play is the most common in younger or toddler age (2 and 3-year old). This is a self-centered type of play but lack use of communication skills. Shy children would rather do this type of play.


  1. Onlooker play – An onlooker play is generally the type when a child simply observes others play and does not make a move to be part of that play. Children who performs this type of play just wants to step back for a while, or feels why or needs to learn the rules of the game first.


  1. Parallel play – This type of play is when our children start to play side by side with others but still in their own little bubble of play. Despite having little “socialization” with the playmate, they still learn from one another like turn taking. This will bridge them to the next stages of play.


  1. Associative play – This type of play is vaguely different from the previous type of play. Associative play also shows children playing separately from one another. However, they are “somewhat” involved with what other children are doing. Let’s say for example, the girls are having dress up game for dolls. They are individually choosing which dress to put on their own dolls, but they are talking to each other, and engaging with each other. This is an important stage of play because this is when they begin to make real friendships.


  1. Cooperative play – This is when the children truly start playing together, with a common goal! Cooperative play brings together all of the social skills the child has been working on and puts them into action. This includes cooperation, turn taking skills, sharing skills, waiting skills and also communicating skills. This sets the stage for future interactions as the child matures into an adult.

These are all the different types of play. It wonderful to see how our children slowly move up from one stage of play to another. It is best to support and facilitate their play. Giving them more opportunities of play means giving them more chances of discovering themselves and the world.

Which stage of play is your child in now?


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