The influence of play on your child’s learning and development is significant. When your child is playing, they can learn in a variety of ways and at various times.

Your child will benefit from play in the following ways:

  • Create confidence
  • Affection, joy, and safety
  • Learn more about how the world functions
  • Develop your communication, language, and social abilities.
  • Learn about protecting the environment and other people.
  • Improve  physical abilities.

Children enjoy a variety of sensory, physical, and cognitive activities through play. Brain connections formed by experiences aid in a child’s physical, intellectual, social, and emotional development.

It’s important for children to have plenty of different types of play experiences. This includes unstructured and structured play, indoor and outdoor play, solo and group play, craft and creative play, and so on. When children get variety, it’s good for all aspects of their learning and development – physical, social, emotional and imaginative.

Different types of play: unstructured and structured

Unstructured, free play is unplanned play that takes place according to your child’s current interests.

Unstructured, spontaneous play is especially helpful for younger children since it allows them to use their imaginations and move at their own pace.

Unstructured play may take the form of:

  • Individual or group creative play, such as musical or artistic games
  • Playing make-believe or dressing up, or building cubbyhouses out of boxes or blankets are some examples of imaginative games.
  • Discovering new or beloved places, such as closets, backyards, parks, playgrounds, and so forth.

You can participate in your child’s free play. However, there are occasions when all you have to do is send your youngster in the appropriate direction, such as towards the mess of dolls and toys on their floor or the table with crayons and paper. You might need to be a little more active at other times. “How about we play dress-up? ” as an illustration. Today, what do you wish to be?

Structured play is planned and takes place at a specific time or in a designated area. It’s frequently led by an adult. Structured play is more likely to be appreciated and advantageous by older kids.

Structured play examples include:

  • Playing ball games outside, such as soccer,
  • Toddler water safety programmes or older children’s swimming lessons
  • The neighbourhood library hosts storytelling sessions for babies and preschoolers.
  • Classes in dance, music, or drama for kids of all ages
  • Family board or board games
  • Sports for slightly older kids that have been adapted, such as cricket blast, Australian hoops basketball, NetSetGo, come and try rugby, and Auskick football.
Structured and unstructured play can happen indoors or outdoors. Outdoor play gives your child the chance to explore, be active, test physical limits – and get messy!

How play develops with children

Your child’s attention span, physical ability, and playing style will all change as they become older. The creativity and experimentation of your youngster with toys, games, and concepts will increase. This could imply that kids require more room and time to play.

Additionally, as they mature, youngsters transition through many sorts of play. This includes playing by yourself, playing with other kids, and playing cooperatively with kids.

Children’s imaginations may run free and they can explore concepts when they are given the time and freedom to play without boundaries. Try modifying an existing area with basic resources like cardboard cartons. Even in small places, this can encourage pretend play.

Your child will love playing with you, but sometimes they might prefer to play alone. Your child might just want you to give them ideas and let them know how their play and games are going. And sometimes your child might want to play with other children – no grown-ups allowed!

Newborns and babies: play ideas to encourage development

Your infant enjoys hearing your voice and simply staring at your face, especially if you are grinning.

With your child, you might want to attempt the following play concepts and activities:

  • Hearing and movement are developed by music, songs, or bells. You might try softly tapping your infant’s stomach while singing.
  • The social and emotional growth of your child will benefit greatly from peekaboo.
  • The sense of touch develops with gentle tickling or contact with items of various textures.
  • You and your infant could try with materials like foam, metal, clay, or feathers.
  • Different-sized, coloured, and shaped objects can inspire your child to reach out and grab them.
  • Strong pieces of furniture, balls, toys, or boxes can help your youngster learn to crawl, stand, and walk.
Regular tummy time and floor play are very important for young babies. Tummy time encourages your baby to move and roll and helps them develop muscle strength and control. It also lets your baby see and experience the world from a different perspective. All you need is a playmat or blanket on the ground or floor.

Toddlers: play ideas to encourage development

Here are a few activities that your child might like:

  • Large, light things such as cardboard boxes, buckets, or blow-up balls may be used to inspire your child to run, build, push, or drag.
  • Jumping, kicking, stomping, stepping, and running can be encouraged by chalk, rope, music, or containers.
  • For climbing, balancing, twisting, swaying, or rolling, use hoops, boxes, big rocks, or cushions.
  • Playing dress-up with hats, scarves, and other accessories helps kids develop their imagination and creativity.
  • Crawling, climbing, and exploring are all physical activities that can be encouraged by hills, tunnels, or nooks.

While playing, play some of your favourite music so that your child can experiment with different rhythms and sounds. Along with your kid, you might also enjoy singing, dancing, and clapping to music.

Preschoolers: play ideas to encourage development

Here are some suggestions for stimulating your preschooler’s mind and body:

  • Old clothes, plastic buckets, wooden spoons, empty pot plants, sticks, scrunched-up paper, and old milk containers are excellent for imaginative, unstructured play.
  • Simple matching games like animal dominoes and jigsaw puzzles can help your youngster focus and recall information.
  • Your youngster can strengthen their fine motor abilities by using playdough and clay.
  • Pots and pans or your favourite music are excellent for dancing or making music.
  • Rolling, kicking, and throwing are all encouraged by balls.

Check to see if you can persuade your child to kick or throw with one side of their body first, then the other.

School-age children: play ideas to encourage development

You can have fun with the following items and activities with your school-age child:

  • Building cubbyhouses with furniture, linen, laundry baskets, tents, and boxes is a terrific idea.
  • Your youngster can learn to move in a variety of directions, at varying speeds, and by using homemade obstacle courses.
  • I spy-style games are excellent for word play. They also improve their literacy.
  • Activities involving simple cooking and food preparation are excellent for fostering scientific, mathematical, literary, and practical skills.
  • Your child may become a favourite superhero or fictional character thanks to their own imagination.

You might consider enrolling your child in team sports or other activities if they show an interest if they are of school age. Art and craft activities for the holidays or after school are additional options.

Simple activities like looking at images, going on a nature walk, or playing with objects that don’t typically belong together can encourage your child’s creativity.

Homemade toys and free activities can help children learn and develop. They’re often the most creative ways for you and your child to have fun together.

If your child doesn’t want to play

There may be times when your child is not interested in playing. By practising the same thing for too long, people could grow weary or bored. This is typical and typically not a cause for concern.

But occasionally, a child’s lack of play or lack of interest in play may indicate a developmental issue.

When should you think about seeing a health expert or your child’s teacher?

  • Unlike peekaboo, your infant doesn’t seem to like participatory play.
  • Your kid either uses toys ineffectively or has a very limited interest in them. For instance, unlike other kids his age, your youngster prefers to spin the wheels of a toy car rather than drive it around the room.
  • Your preschooler isn’t enthusiastic about pretend play or playing with other kids.