Different Types Of Play In Early Childhood

Kids enjoy playing, and while it might seem that they are merely having a good time, this is not the reality. Play is essential for kids’ growth and development.

Kids learn to establish a sense of self through playtime, as well as to socialize and interact with others, cooperate, take turns, work as part of a team, and withhold or reveal important information.

Like everything else involved with human evolution, playtime can entail numerous phases, is complicated, and can be classified into several categories. In this post, we’ll look at different types of play that are important for early childhood development.

What is play?

In simple terms, it is a voluntary activity that is energetically sought to obtain pleasure. Playtime is essential for kids’ development. This is because it teaches them social skills, self-awareness, and problem-solving abilities. It allows them to unwind and socialize with other children their age.

Additionally, it aids in the development of important motor skills such as concentration and balance. This facilitates learning and school activities even more.

Play actively involves a child’s intellect and fosters imagination and creativity, whether it’s a simple act like role-playing by donning a costume or rolling a ball aimlessly.

Types of Play

  1. Constructive Play

Constructive play refers to any play that entails building or assembling something.


  • Promotes adaptability
  • Assists in the development of teamwork and planning skills.
  • Instills perseverance
  • Encourages concentration in order to achieve a goal


  • Constructing a sandcastle
  • Assembling building elements to produce something appealing to the eye
  1. Parallel play

This is when kids play side by side but have limited interaction and appear to be doing their own thing without including others. It is most common in kids aged 1 to 2 years.

Kids might sometimes observe one another during parallel play and make alterations to their own play as a result. However, they won’t try to influence their playmates.


  • Develops role-playing skills
  • Is aware of the concept of ownership.
  • Learns how to interact with youngsters their own age


  • Working with the same box to create individual sandcastles
  • Role-playing and dressing up
  • Playing with the same toys
  1. Solitary play (Independently)

Kids as young as 2 or 3 years old are likely to engage in this type of play. Kids engage in solo play by inspecting objects, lifting, and holding toys. They don’t show any interest in the other kids in the vicinity.

This type of play is beneficial for youngsters who are shy about interacting with their peers or haven’t yet developed social or physical abilities.


  • Acquires the ability to unwind and reflect
  • is self-taught when it comes to new skills
  • Is a self-starter who makes his own decisions
  • Enhances creativity and imagination
  • Instills confidence in one’s ability to interact with others
  • Develops self-sufficiency


  • Scribbling, drawing, or sketching
  • Rattling toys
  • Acting out a fictitious event
  1. Competitive Play

When kids learn to play organized games with defined rules and criteria for winning and losing, they are engaging in competitive play. Competitive games include football, snake and ladders, and Ludo.


  • Acquires teamwork skills
  • Acquires the ability to wait for their turn
  • Acquires the ability to play by the rules


  • Sports such as racing, badminton, and table tennis
  • Playing cards
  1. Fantasy/ Dramatic Play

Kids frequently create individuals and circumstances or picture themselves in a specific role during dramatic play and then dramatize those make-believe scenarios. This form of play encourages kids to act out their feelings and try out new words.


  • Encourages others’ empathy
  • Encourages creativity and imagination.
  • Enhances language abilities
  • Enhances problem-solving abilities
  • Fosters interest in things other than oneself


  • Caring for and affectionately treating stuffed animals
  • Interacting with dolls
  • Role-playing
  1. Playing in Groups

Kids’ social skills improve as they grow, and they ultimately learn to interact, work together, and play with others. When kids play cooperatively, they work together to achieve a common goal.


  • Enhances self-assurance
  • Acquires an understanding of the importance of collaboration
  • Enhances communication abilities
  • Encourages self-expression
  • Acquires the ability to communicate with and understand their age mates


  • Building sandcastles with other kids
  1. Associative learning

When kids become more interested in other kids and less interested in toys, they are engaging in associative play. While the kids appear to be interacting with their peers, there are no shared objectives, no structure, no clear norms of play, and no organization. Kids as young as 3 or 4 years old are likely to engage in this type of play.


  • Learns cooperation and problem-solving skills
  • Develops the ability to share
  • Language improvement
  • Increased interaction with other kids


  • Actively communicating and conversing with one another
  • Exchange toys
  • Kids are using the same toys to play
  1. Symbolic Play

Kids engage in this type of play when they utilize items to enact activities. Symbolic play includes singing, painting, playing music, and coloring.


  • Experiments with emotions and learns about them
  • Is open to new ideas
  • Self-expression


  • Making music with instruments
  • Singing
  • Drawing
  1. Physical Play
  • This is a type of play that requires some physical exertion


  • Strengthens both gross and fine motor skills
  • It promotes physical exercise


  • Hide-and-seek games
  • Tossing the ball
  • Cycling is a fun way to get about
  1. Onlooker Play

When kids aren’t actively participating but are eagerly observing other kids’ play, they are considered to be engaging in onlooker play. Kids that engage in this type of play, which is most common in toddlers, learn through observing.


  • Learn and listen to acquire language skills
  • Acquires knowledge by observation


  • Fascinated by other children’s play yet refusing to join in
  1. Unoccupied Play

A child performing random gestures such as kicking legs in the air and waving hands is best defined as unoccupied play. These might appear to be random movements, but they are, in fact, a type of play. Infants and newborn babies are the most likely to engage in this form of play.


  • Prepares the groundwork for future play activities
  • Investigates movements and learns about excitement naturally.


  • Preoccupied with what appears to be nothing
  • Babies move feet and hands randomly

Play is important for children’s growth and development; hence, parents should not prevent their kids from playing. Actually, parents should aim to play with their children as much as possible because it facilitates bonding. To prevent any mishaps, make sure that you supervise small kids as they play with toys.

What every parent should know about play

  1. Playing is healthy

Playtime is an important part of a child’s development. It also combats the obesity epidemic that is afflicting a lot of kids today.

  1. Schedule time for fun

You, as parents, are the most ardent advocates of your kid’s education. To encourage emotional, physical, cognitive, social, and verbal development, ensure that kids get as much time to play as possible during the day.

  1. A child’s context for learning is play

During playtime, kids practice and reinforce their learning in a variety of ways. It provides them with a location and time to learn. Kids, for example, draw and write menus, write checks, take orders, and determine the price while playing restaurant.

Playtime promotes kids’ self-esteem and success by providing extensive learning opportunities.

  1. There’s more to play than meets the eye

Playtime can be both simple and sophisticated. There are lots of different styles of play, including rule-based, sociodramatic, symbolic, and functional games, to mention a few.

Researchers look into a variety of aspects related to play, including the need for recess during the school day, how outdoor play affects kids’ play, how kids learn via play, and the effects of screen time on play.

  1. Play outdoors

Go skateboarding, go to the beach, build forts, or play with other kids in the neighborhood to recall your own outdoor experiences. Ensure that your kids have fun outside as well.

  1. Play is a stress reliever

Your kid’s emotional development is aided by play. It’s upbeat and relaxing, and it relieves stress and tension.


Playtime is an essential element of a child’s development that needs support and encouragement. However, keep in mind that kids require their own space and time. This will allow them to master these skills, which will emerge on their own.

Parents shouldn’t intentionally teach their children the lessons they learn from play. Rather, the beauty is that kids discover these treasures while playing their games, all while having a good time.

Leave a Comment