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Onlooker to associative: 6 types of play important for child development

Play for children is not just of one kind. It involves different stages and evolves and child grows. Here are six kinds of play that your toddler might engage in.

By: Parenting Desk |
December 17, 2019 2:46:01 pm
child free play Play boosts a child’s sensory and motor skills. (Source: Getty Images)

Creative and free play is an essential part of a child’s growth and development. Children engage in role play, imaginative play or use objects in a new way. Through play, your little one learns to explore, which improves their sensory and motor skills.

Play for children is not just of one kind. It involves different stages and evolves as the child grows. Here are six kinds of play that are essential for your child’s development:

Unoccupied play

This is a basic type of play where child just makes random movements with their hands and legs. Parents can encourage this form of unorganised play by attracting the child’s attention to lots of textures and colours but avoid startling sounds or very bright lights.

Solitary play

Toddlers commonly engage in this form of play where they lift toys and other objects and observe them. Your child will sit quietly in one corner without engaging with other children or adults. This is considered the child’s first step towards independent living and developing social interactions.

types of play Through play, children develop socialising skills. (Source: Getty Images)

Onlooker play

This refers to a situation where a child, about two to three years old, observes other children as they play, without playing themselves. Children who engage in onlooker play learn by observation. They also pick up language skills by listening.

Parallel play

Parallel play involves children playing side-by-side with limited interaction with each other. These children, however, will sometimes observe each other and tweak their play based on it.

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Associative play

Children start engaging in this form of play at around three-four years of age where they become more interested in other children than toys. At some point, they begin interacting with the other child they are playing with, which helps in improving their socialising skills.

types of play Toddlers also engage in imaginative play. (Source: Getty Images)

Fantasy play

Children also begin engaging in fantasy play in their preschool years. Children imagine situations or people or imagine themselves in a particular situation and act out those scenarios. This kind of play prompts kids to play with language and emotions.

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