Tags: peer group
Play is important for every child and for the first few years of their lives, babies and toddlers learn a huge amount during what they consider to be 'play'. This is why teaching through play is such a great way to guide and educate our children because the message gets through, they learn and yet it all happens while they are having fun, playing!
During play, children expand their understand of the world, their understanding of themselves, and indeed their understanding of other people. Once children play together, it is also a way to start communicating with other children and sharing ideas and games.
By six months, children have learned, through trial and error, various sequences that they practice. If they push a ball, it rolls! They see that something happens and they like the feeling of it happening. They are learning to grip and drop and use their hands.
By nine months they might push a ball, crawl to get it and push it again. They master new skills and make the play more interesting and complex for themselves. They use props more and gravitate towards toys they like.
By a year, they are able to be even more accurate with their props/toys. They know a rattle will rattle and can kick or throw or roll a ball.
Types of play
- Sensory play: As they gain confidence and control their games become even more complex. They enjoy the sensation of movement such as swings and slides. They will do things over again to relive the experience.
- Pretend Play: Children begin by being adult led and take the initiative from parents when starting out with pretend play. Once they see what they can do, they may take the lead. They may take familiar roles of doctor, or Dad when playing. They may need, props and costumes and will probably be happy making a dressing gown into a super hero cape or tying a scarf round their head to make a princess veil.
- By 4 or 5, pretend play becomes peer focused and they children will happy to share a pretend game together, working out what to do and who is going to be who in the game. They will discuss the rules of the game, how it will unfold. They may well guide behaviour by suggesting an action. "You'll need to drink your tea before you go to work, Dad." Pre-schoolers will also have to overcome conflict and negotiate.
- Constructive play: Blocks and boxes are used to create a pretend miniature world. This type of play, allows the child complete freedom to create a world of their own.
- Physical Play: Rough and tumble, running games, chasing games are all popular with pre-schoolers. They have more control at this age and can jump, run, climb and chase. Overly aggressive behaviour should be checked, but it's all about learning how to control their body and what they are capable of.
- Organised games: A more logical and formal game arrangement becomes popular between 4 and 5 years old. They can cope with and understand the idea of having rules and are able to follow those rules in order to have a fun game. The idea of competition is introduced and that of winner or loser! Teams are also introduced and the idea of working together for a common goal.
What's our role?
Observe and comment in a positive way to encourage them.
Play with them especially when they are young, It affirms the idea of playing and makes them feel worthwhile if you are willing to play too.
Create a playful atmosphere and allow them to play - give them permission to make some noise or a mess!
Make suggestions if they are stuck.
Ensure everyone plays safely ie. the equipment is safe and that the children behave properly too!