“Diane Ackerman once wrote, “Play is our brain’s favourite way of learning.”
Research shows that learning modifies the physical structure of the brain. And, then alter the functional organisation of the brain; in other words, there is a strong connection between learning effects and our brain. If we connect that to Diane Ackerman’s perspective, it’s clear that learning through play multiplies the rate our brain develops, especially our earlier years.
Throughout the years, many recognised these positive effects and the negative impact when kids are denied the rightful play. Health professionals such as paediatricians are now actively recommending play as an important factor in healthy brain development. You might ask— is kickball play, not enough? Yes, it isn’t. It simply carries 0000.1% out of the important play your kids need. In this article, we shall sequentially analyse the Parton’s six types of play children need. This theory is applicable to children between the age of 2 to six years.
1. Unoccupied Play (Infants from birth to 18 months)
Physically, your infant is alone in their bed, cot, crib, or cradle. However, suddenly, your little ones start moving their body for no special reason than they are having a nice time. You can start wondering what’s going on with them, but the situation is under their control. Unoccupied play is the most basic type of play. It’s a type that enables them to think, move, and reason freely. This might sound odd, but it’s not. The world, your lofty apartment, and the gypsum ceiling, he profusely stares at are completely new. So, don’t bother yourself organising anything, they can pull their weight. Although, you can make it more lively by supplying them objects to mess around with. You can also choose fancy objects with lots of textures and colours as this will captivate their overall attention.
2. Independent or Solitary Play (Until age 3)
This play is similar to the previous one, but the little difference is that your once infant has grown up a bit, let’s say a year-old and above. The situation here occurs when he/she starts playing alone, with little or no reference to what other kids or adults are doing. However, a child’s personality traits dictate the level of the process. For example, introverted children are known to spend time alone playing or engaging in other activities rather than seeking out the companionship of others. Therefore, if your child is an introvert, he’s likely to play quietly in the corner more often than his extroverted counterpart. Nevertheless, it’s an important process a child must pass through. And, it’s your job to encourage the behaviour.
Recommended toys: Cardboard boxes, toddler safe books, train sets, play kitchen, and other imaginative toys.
3. Onlooker Play (No specific age, but it usually occurs in toddlers)
This is a play your child engaged by simply looking at the play of other children. This can seem inactive, but it’s important. He does not have to participate, simply looking at their play satiate his curiosity and drive. Although, it’s important for them to have the ability to interact with other children in school. But first, they need to learn from what others are doing to imitate the same. And, don’t be surprised your kids can extend their watch on you, especially when you play. You can seize that opportunity to teach your little ones different kinds of play and activities.
Recommended activities: Engage in plays or activities openly, especially where your kids can see you. Walk your kids to the local park and let them admire the views of kids playing around. If your child has siblings, persuade the older ones to move slowly so the younger ones can learn from them. After all, they’ll be playmates later.
4. Parallel Play (This usually occurs between 2 and 3 ½ years of age)
This is the ideal play designed to introduce your child to an interactive session; especially, with his playmate. Kids involved play next to each other, but not necessarily talking with others. The interactive part is that they’ll get to see what other kids are doing. However, whatever happens, do not try to influence one another’s behaviour during the play. Bear in mind that, the aim behind the play is to bring your child one step closer to understanding how to connect with people outside of their family.
Recommend activities: Create a cardboard fort instead of making a purchase stacking and sorting blocks and sticker books.
5. Associative Play (Occur between the ages of 3 and 4)
This is one of the categories of play used to measure the progress of social interaction among preschoolers. In this play, children exchange materials and interact with each other as they engage in several activities, though not working towards a common goal. At this level, your little ones of three or four years of age are now capable of handling small objects or toys on their own.
Recommended toys: Engineering-geared toys or something similar, Lego Duplo building sets, stacking blocks, or marble set. People Pebbles and other low-mess art supplies.
6. Cooperative Play (Occur between the ages of 4 to 6)
This is the final stage of play in Parten’s theory. At this stage, you little ones probably between four to six years are finally ready to play with other kids. The beauty of this stage is that kids are willing to play, so the spirit is there! This is when the team sports or group performances become a lot more fun. And you can see them applying the skills they’ve acquired to other parts of their lives. Instead of working together towards different goals, your kid plays with others for a common purpose.
Recommended activities: Soccer ball, Tee-ball, Dance bar.
To Wrap It Up
Exposing children to play in due time allows them to use their creativity while developing their cognitive, affective, and physical strength. As analysed in this article, they don’t have to become a toddler before exposing them to these essential plays. It’s a gradual process that is important to healthy brain development, so you better start earlier before it’s too late.