Learning Through Play
Updated: Apr 28
"Children learn as they play, more importantly, in play children learn how to learn"
- Fred Donaldson
Playing is the most natural way for children to learn, grow, develop, and begin to make sense of the world and their place within it. Playing is as critical to a child’s development as eating and sleeping. As parents, one way that we can know for sure that we are doing something good, is to play with our children and to let them play.
Types of Play in the Early Years
Unoccupied play (birth - three months): At this stage your baby is making a lot of movements with their arms, legs, hands and feet. They are learning about and discovering how their body moves.
Solitary play (birth - two years): This is the stage when a child plays alone. They are not interested in playing with others just yet.
Spectator/onlooker behaviour (two years): During this stage children begin to watch other children playing but do not join in.
Parallel play (two+ years): Your child may play alongside or near to others but does not play with them.
Associate play (three - four years): Your child starts to interact with others during play, but at this stage there still isn’t a lot of interaction. Your child might be doing an activity related to the children close by, but might not actually be interacting with another child.
Cooperative/social play (four+ years): When your child plays together with others and has an interest in both the activity and other children involved.
Play activities should consider the age of your child, their stage of development and ability.
Think about what your child enjoys, give them choice and freedom and of course, join in! Build play into your everyday routines.
• Sing songs and rhymes – anytime and anywhere.
• Play games whilst tidying up, washing the dishes or doing the laundry.
• Make shopping fun by playing find the item, I spy or using picture shopping lists.
• Play games in the car such as spotting certain types or colours of cars, shops, animals, people etc.