Every child loves to play. Play is essentially fun for young children. Parents too feel happy when they see their children playing at home, in the playground or in the parks. It all seems to be the same: child’s play. But it’s not just that. There is much to it. Play is children’s way of learning about the world, knowing about how things work and exploring who they are and who others are. Although the child’s play may look similar; but in reality every child plays in a different way.
Various types of child’s play
1. Fantasy play: making up stories, acting them out with dolls, animals or pictures.
2. Constructive Play: building with blocks, Lego or other construction toys, piling boxes/tins/toys one on top of the other.
3. Social Play: playing together with other children, party games, board games.
4. Skillful Play: solving jigsaw puzzles, sorting, threading beads, using hands and brain for small fine movements.
5. Exploratory Play: discovery or exploration of new things to see, hear, touch, taste and share their fascination with others.
6. Energetic Play: Rough and tumble, running, climbing, jumping, balancing, swimming, playing outside, treasure hunts.
Through the Fantasy plays, the child learns to improve his/her language skills, imagination skills and many other life skills. As they grow, you will be amazed to see what unique stories the little minds can come up with. Experts in child Psychology have identified repeatable patterns of behaviour during play particularly seen in children from two to five years age group. They call these patterns “schemas”.
Some easily recognizable schemas are:
1. Connection: joining things up
Children who have a strong inclination towards “connecting “ will enjoy playing with construction toys, bricks, beads, joining tracks for trains and attaching trains and carriages together.
2. Enveloping: wrapping things up
Children who are into “enveloping” will play at wrapping things up, making dens and putting things in the oven.
3. Enclosing: putting things inside other things
4. Rotation: making things turn round and round
5. Trajectory: making things move through the air, jumping or kicking
These children will spend a lot of time throwing or kicking things, jumping from heights and riding round on bikes.
6. Transportation: moving things from one place to another
These children may love to shift the furniture around or spend a lot of time moving all their dolls and cars from one place to another.
Understanding about schemas gives parents some insight into the way the child’s mind works and helps to accept the child’s need to play in a certain way. For example: girls often show more enclosing and enveloping schemas, while boys tend to be more trajectory-based. So, if a child’s into trajectory play, the parents will have a hard job on their hands to get him/her to sit quietly and play with a construction toy. S/He is more likely to want to throw the bricks or make towers and knock them down than fit them together. The secret is to find ways the child can play which will satisfy his/her needs. The parents need to find them games that involve trajectory play, such as hammering and throwing games where s/he can throw a bean-bag into a bucket.
Children need encouragement and the opportunity to experience all the different types of play but can also need to recognize and accommodate what interests them most. For instance, if a child wants to arrange tea parties with dolls, s/he could be encouraged to paint pictures to show what’s on the menu at the doll’s café. You can help your child’s “pretend play” by giving them some home-made food, props and toys such as simple tea and biscuits, dressing up clothes, blankets, tents or a cave to let them have their kind of play inside it.
Children do not need expensive toys or going out to gaming zone to play. They need to spend time with you and watch you and talk to you about everything from the washing up to what you are cooking for dinner. Your child will love to look at books with you, learn nursery rhymes, sing songs and of course, ask you questions about everything under the sun.
Sometimes they will need you to play with them so they can get the most out of a game or a toy; at other times they will be happy to play by themselves. In fact, quite often children need time to play alone or with their friends, to lose themselves in their own little fantasy worlds and make up their own imaginative games without any input from adults.
Whatever they want, listen to them, encourage them but don’t push them too hard to do anything they are not sure about. Finally, enjoyment should be the aim for both of you.