Different Types of Play
Play is an essential part of childhood growth and learning. Ask anyone "what comes to your mind when you hear the word childhood ?" Most likely the answer you will receive is play.
There are different types of play options and we recommend encouraging these 5 types of play options in your pre-schoolers for an all-round experience and brain development
The different types of play:
Free play: This is play that is child-driven and unstructured and brings joy to the child. There are no instructions given
by anyone and the child is free to express himself/herself, use different play objects, and it is not a part of homework
or study. This also works on emotion control, self-expression, imagination and creativity. Examples of free play
include drawing, cycling, running, coloring, climbing, swinging, pretend play, reading for fun etc.
Guided play: This is play that is child-driven, but parents/teachers/adults/caregivers provide some structure. It is a
foundation for developmental skills where there are a range of activities – puzzles, sheets, blocks etc – and there are
a set of instructions that come with it. They are not hard and fast rules, so the child can play with these even as a part
of free play, therefore creating a balance between the two.
Games: These are adult designed, but child-driven activities. They come with a set of rules or instructions that must
be followed while playing – they can be indoor games or outdoor games structured around age-appropriateness, skill
level required, minimum number of players etc. They aid cognitive development, logical thinking, listening and
communication as well as understanding patterns and sequences – all through play. They include puzzles, card games,
sorting games and movement games (hopscotch, lock and key, hide and seek etc).
Instructional play: These are adult-designed and adult-driven activities that come with clear cut rules and regulations
which have to be explained beforehand to children. They come with a goal, a method of play as well as a
result/outcome. There is generally a standard pattern of gameplay and children need instructions throughout it. They
help teamwork skills, communication skills, and the ability to work with others. It also builds the ability to understand
and follow instructions in a sequence to get to a desired outcome.
To ensure your child receives the optimal stimulation, it is important to find the right balance of different kinds of play and
activities. Providing a few options for different forms of play will keep your little ones interested and engaged, while taking care
to not over-stimulate them. While choosing different play aids, it is important to look for age-appropriateness, variety of
textures, simplicity and ease of understanding, environmental factors as well as the level of independence that can be provided
for your little one, but always – remember to make it a joyful experience full of fun, joy and wonder!