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10 Amazing Types of Play Important to a Child’s Development

 Playing is a crucial part of a child’s life. Did you know there are different types of play important to your child’s development? Find them here.

Every child loves to play. It allows them to engage and interact with the world around them. ‘Playing’ means different things to different children and at different stages of their lives. Hence, there are different types of play important to a child’s development.

Even though many adults associate playing with only fun and entertainment but that conception can’t be more flawed. It is through play that a child is able to work and improve his or her emotional intelligence (EQ). They develop self-expression, learn to socialize, and keep functioning at peak efficiency in an air of teamwork and cooperation.

Like a lot of other things, playing and learning how to play is a step-by-step process and involves several stages. In this article, we’ll take a peek at the 10 fundamental types of play critical for kid’s development and growth.

Meaning of Play

Play is an activity that children indulge in for the sake of enjoyment or amusement, all the while developing important skills including self-awareness and problem-solving strategy. 

Here are 10 amazing types of play that are important to a child’s development

Ranging from a simple act of staring endlessly at a shiny marble to taking part in a football league, play helps children exercise their minds and promotes different types of creativity. It also helps to broaden the horizon of their imaginative skills. Listed below are 10 of the most significant types of play.

Involuntary Play

Also, commonly known as unoccupied play, this type focuses on random and seemingly paltry movements like a toddler waving his arms around and kickboxing in the air.

While these may seem like hit-or-miss movements, in reality, it’s the most basic type of play seen mostly in infants.

Recommended Activities: 

  • Providing child-friendly toys to the child
  • Textured balls and toys

Parallel Play

In this type of play, children tend to play side-by-side but without having their activities intersect with one another’s. Even if they pay a little heed to their neighbor’s specific method of play and implement it in their own games, they usually refrain from interfering in each other’s business. Parallel play is most common for among children who are 2-3 years old. 

Recommended Activities: 

  • Building and sorting blocks
  • Play dough
  • Sandbox and sand toys
  • Coloring books

Harmonized Play

During this stage, kids try to outreach their limits and start interacting with their peers during play. Even though they engage and communicate with each other, there seems to be a lack of a definite type of goal and the play is a little unorganized.

Recommended Activities: 

  • Now is the time to introduce your child to art supplies. 
  • They can be trusted with small pieces of toys like LEGO blocks

Non-Social / Solitary Play

Solitary play is most commonly observed in shy kids and those lacking a playing partner. Children modelling this play do not show much interest in what others are doing and are preoccupied with themselves. This is an important type of play as it teaches children how to keep themselves entertained. Kids who are most comfortable with themselves do well in social surroundings. 

Recommended Activities: 

  • Give them interactive books 
  • Imaginative toys, puzzle

 Dramatic / Fantasy Play

In this type of play, kids fantasize about different kinds of situations and role-play a character (for instance kids trying to imitate Ben 10 or other characters). Nearly all kids go through this stage although the role-models are basically different ranging from Iron Man to Cinderella to even Tom & Jerry.

Recommended Activities: 

  • Try to play with them while maintaining a character. Let them take the lead.
  • Read story books to them to enhance their imagination.

Onlooker / Observatory Play

Children engaged in on-looker play tend to observe others during play and do not participate in the activity. They learn the mechanisms and minutiae of play through observation. Kids who watch and observe prepare themselves for their eventual participation in such group activities.

Recommended Activities: 

  • This is the time to teach the child things you would like them to do – playing an instrument, reading, or any other habit.
  • Be extra cautious of your conduct since the child will pick up almost everything. 
  • Take them to a park and let them watch others play, even if they don’t want to leave you to join them.

Rivalrous / Competitive Play

Competitive play tends to be well organized with distinct sets of rules and regulations and follow a regular course, towards a common goal of winning. For example – monopoly, hide-and-seek, playing tag, Ludo, soccer, etc.

Recommended Activities: 

  • Board games, hopscotch 
  • Try telling them rules of certain plays like chess and play with them.

Synergistic / Cooperative Play

In this type of play, kids learn the principles of playing in harmony and collaborating with each other. They enjoy playing in a group, whether it’s building sand-castles or throwing ball.

Recommended Activities: 

  • Take your child to a park and let them socialize
  • Plays like football, tee-ball, building sandcastles fit the age

Symbolic / Representative Play

In this type of play, children perform different types of actions using various instruments and objects like guitar, coloring books, working with clay, etc. It also includes vocal activities such as signing, telling jokes, or narrating stories.

Recommended Activities: 

  • Give your child a musical instrument to play 
  • A fun karaoke set will encourage your child to sing

Constructive Play

Any kind of play that triggers the constructing capabilities within the child is termed as constructive play. For instance, building a block with magnetic tiles or using pillows to construct a fort, and so on.

Recommended Activities: 

  • Puzzle-solving fits perfectly at this stage.

Closing Thoughts

When it comes to the growth and development of a child, play and academics both go hand in hand and are essential in shaping the child into an interactive and independent person.

We encourage you to promote the value of play in your kids by taking them to parks, scheduling playdates with other kids, etc.

Without the benefit of skills learned through play and trial, kids can be at risk of growing up as introverts and shrink back from any kind of social contact.