An excerpt published by the Utah Registry for Professional Development shows that children have six different stages of playing that they go through. There are many misconceptions and irrational thoughts that parents form while observing the way their children play. Breaking those observations using research is the best way to inform parents and spread awareness that there is a healthy reason why children tend to play the way they do.
The 6 Types Of Plays
1. Unoccupied Play
Unoccupied play is the first stage of playing. It is also known as infancy play. The child tends to move their body in a unique way and play using their creativity without any purpose. They move in ways which they find comfortable and exciting.
As a parent, you do not need to worry about organizing anything for your child. As a parent, your duty is to ensure that your child is in the safest environment possible while they are playing. Everything is new to a child that is in the first stage of play, and every object will fascinate them. Toys for kids in this stage would be pillows, and other stuffed animals would work perfectly. Avoid giving them toys that have smaller parts that are easy to swallow.
2. Solitary Play
Solitary play, as the name suggests, is when your child plays alone without the interference of an adult or other children. The flow of this playstyle goes according to the temperament of your child. This stage can be amusing for your child as they entertain themselves and explore wildly.
Many parents mistake solitary play as anti-social. This stage of playing is critical to young children as they learn to be comfortable with themselves. When they are comfortable with themselves, they will be able to make stronger bonds with others.
Independent play can be active or quiet, and it changes according to the mood of your child. It teaches them the ability to be content with the discoveries they have made on their own. Your kid usually does solitary activities using toys such as a kids’ camera as they go clicking pictures, with a book, or with a musical toy where they are fascinated by the sounds. Encouraging solitary play will make your lives easier as a parent as they will be self-entertained.
3. Onlooker Play
Onlooker play, as the name suggests, is when your child does not participate in the act of playing but observes the way other children around them play. This stage might seem to be idle, but it is essential for your child to understand how different children act and play. This could help them create bonds as they learn to relate to the way other children behave.
This kind of play is not limited to watching other children play merely play, and kids are fascinated by adults and the things they do, and they learn from the way adults play. When another child is playing a musical toy or playing with their kids’ camera, your child is fascinated by their activity and tries to understand how it is done. Through observation, children learn and memorize how certain activities are carried out, making it easier for them to tag along in the future.
4. Parallel Play
Parallel play is when your child plays beside other children but independently. They might use the same toys, but they are playing their own game. Learning how to play helps children learn how to relate to others. Parallel play is the final stage before your child begins to connect with other children.
For this stage, toys that can be shared, such as lego blocks, will be better in comparison to a musical instrument or a kids’ camera. This will ensure that fights over who gets to use the toys do not start.
Many parents force children to play when they are amidst the parallel play stage. What they need to understand is that this is the final stage before their children start to understand and connect with others outside of their family. Let your children carry on with their activities, and they will eventually begin making friends.
5. Associative Play
Associative play is when children play with those around them, but they do not organize themselves to play towards a common goal. Although these children are using the same toys and playing the same way, each of them is asserting their own creativity. The outcome of the game of each child is different.
Most preschool children get into this stage where their attention span is longer and enjoy the social aspects of interacting with other children. This is the perfect opportunity to introduce your child to the playroom and preschools as they get more opportunities to interact with others.
6. Cooperative Play
Children that fall into this category have a deeper understanding of personal space, surrounding, and team play. Cooperative play can be team sports or games such as basketball, soccer, or tennis. These are usually conducted by their school.
Children are more likely to cooperate to achieve a common goal. They understand the sense of teamwork and cooperation. They are past the stage of not wanting to share and have learned how sharing could help them achieve their goal. They interact, socialize, and communicate with other children. You can observe signs of children who play with similar musical toys group together and try to jam.
Children are the gems of the world. They are the future, and they leave us with a sense of purpose, a deeper reason to exist apart from our self-made goals. We must guide our children down the right path, and the first stem to guiding them is to understand them. Many parents hold many irrational beliefs, such as children who play alone, stay alone, but that is not the case. The article above should have helped widen your perspective on the different ways children love to play.