It goes without saying: Children love to play! And for good reasons, too – experts say that play is a crucial part of learning and development for children. It taps into their natural curiosity and can help them build up a skills set in areas from motor skills to emotional intelligence.
But did you know that there are actually different types of play? Simply giving your child 20 minutes a day in your home’s living room with the same toys every day isn’t going to be the most effective way to maximise their benefits from play. Instead, diverse types of play are required for a child to develop holistically.
Here, we introduce the various forms of play and their roles in child development. Read on to find out if your child is lacking in any area!
When children run around, jump rope, or play ball with their friends, they are engaging in motor play. It’s no surprise that play that involves intense or coordinated physical movements are great for developing hand-eye coordination, physical strength, and agility. Additionally, these activities promote an active lifestyle that helps keep the little tykes fit!
This is what your child does when they are playing with clay, making sandcastles, and building structures with Lego. Constructive play consists of two main actions: the act of physically creating something, and the creative act of conceptualisation. Thus, these activities can develop fine motor skills, confidence in manipulating objects, as well as allow them to experiment and ideate creatively.
Expressive play is when kids dabble in art forms like drawing or music-making that enables them to express their ideas, feelings, or thoughts. Doing these activities help children get comfortable with expressing themselves creatively through non-verbal means and exercises their ability to use symbolism. These are also great, healthy outlets for children to release and manage their emotions.
“Mama, today, I am a T-rex! Roar!” It wouldn’t be unusual to hear a child say this. In fact, many children love to pretend – sometimes they pretend to be other characters, or they ascribe personalities to objects. This is normal, and helps develop children’s abstract thinking skills. Not to mention, they hone their imagination and ability to think from different perspectives as well.
At the playground or in school, children are introduced to other kids, and start to become involved in cooperative play. Most typically, cooperative play are games with organised rules and conventions. This includes team sports as well as games like Simon Says or Duck Duck Goose. Through cooperative play, children learn to understand and abide by rules, get exposed to the notion of winning and losing, and gain knowledge of how to manoeuvre through social interactions.
Most children take to all types of play like a duck takes to water. However, parents can help by ensuring that children have the platforms to engage in the whole spectrum of play. One way is by making various kinds of toys and materials available to the child – for example, building blocks to promote constructive play, paper and paint for expressive play, and a ball for motor play.
Another thing that warrants attention is giving the child time to enjoy all types of play regularly. Parents may particularly find it challenging to give their child ample motor play time if their home is small. Thus, outdoor opportunities become all the more crucial.
Enrolling your child in a school that understands the importance of play is also a way to ensure your child is getting enough, balanced play every day. An international school in Singapore that does this well is the Canadian International School (CIS). The IB education school’s kindergarten programme is play-based and inquiry-based, capitalising on children’s natural curiosity and wonder to teach them about the world. Play and learning are not confined to the indoors, but also capitalise on the open, shared areas (AKA ‘learning pods’), and outdoor discovery centre.
Look no further than this international kindergarten to provide your child with all the forms of play they need. Of course, they are not just playing; they are also learning every step of the way!