PREVIOUS: Play – Intro #2
BOOK: A Playworker’s Taxonomy of Play Types, 1996
FORMS of PLAY in Childhood
Research shows that playing is critical to healthy brain development. It is as fundamental a childhood need as parental love, good food, sleep, healthy social interaction, & the fulfillment of emotional needs. Failure to learn play-skills early on can lead to problems with peers & in the classroom. Play is so important to optimal child development that it has been recognized by the UN High Commission for Human Rights as a right of every child. (General Assembly Resolution 44/25, 11/20/89)
• The idea that play is ‘natural’ & has ‘value’ for children is a relatively new social awareness. Its roots are in the European Enlightenment & Romantic eras, from the writings of Rousseau, Pestalozzi & Froebel…(1750s to 1850s). It’s a powerful motivator for learning because it’s enjoyable, self-initiated, engaging, active, & lets kids discover knowledge in their own way.
NOTE – re. TIME: being aware of it, managing it, harnessing it – are not some of the skills Play is involved in or teaches. The whole point of play is that there are no time limits, no deadlines & getting so caught up in it that ‘time flies’!
> That’s why some adults say that their jobs don’t feel like work: it’s fun – for them, and so absorbing they lose track of time.
THESE are not all listed by age but rather by category.
1. PHYSICAL (Self & things)
Body Play – when infants explore how their body works & interacts with the world, preparing them to think in motion & in 3-D. Self-movement & play lights up the brain, structures our knowledge of our environment, & prepares us for the unexpected or unusual
Sensori-motor / Functional Play – considered the first actual form of play, but continuing thru childhood, babies use early reflexes which gradually become more deliberate with finer motor skills. Babies enjoy shaking a rattle, splashing in the bath, dropping objects repeatedly from a high chair….. & by age 1 they spend most of playtime exploring & manipulating objects (rolling a ball, dragging a pull toy)
Constructive P – by age 2+ children start to manipulate their environment to create & build things, which takes up nearly half their play time between ages 3 – 6. It provides Practical info:
by experimenting with objects & ‘parts’, including drawing & music, learning how things fit together, what works & what doesn’t…. Piaget suggested it’s the foundation for understanding the rules that govern physical reality
Mastery P – emerges around age 4-5, when the child learns to control physical parts of the environments & how they function
EXP: run & jump over obstacles on a playground while pretending to be a cartoon superhero
Object / Exploratory P – which uses infinite & interesting sequences of hand-eye manipulations & movements. It a way to express curiosity & gather factual information from handling physical things…. Hands playing with all sorts of objects helps the brain develop beyond manual dexterity.
— Object Play in the young is correlated with effective adult Problem Solving skills
Exploratory P – gathering factual information from activities such as handling, throwing, banging or mouthing objects (size, shape, feeling….)
Loco-motor P – movement in any or every direction for its own sake
EXP: running in circles, zooming around with arms out like an airplane…)
Active / Physical P – requires a good deal of energy, & is less about being social, although it does involves that, but more about movement. It helps children develop gross & fine motor skills
EXP: throwing & catching balls, climbing frames, riding a bike…)
Rough and Tumble P – physically close encounters, less to do with fighting & more about touching, tickling & gauging relative strength. It helps children discover flexibility & the exhilaration of showing off.
NEXT: Play FORMS (Part 3)