I remember being a young, stay at home mom, managing my 2 year old son and feeling the need to engage him in purposeful play all the time. To add to my #momguilt, I also was an Early Childhood educator by profession.
I convinced myself that my job role was not only to ensure my child was nurtured and well-looked after but to also run a mini preschool for my little one. I was constantly planning art and craft activities, storytelling sessions and engaging him in purposeful play.
Thankfully for him and me, I soon realised that I couldn't continue at this pace and I took a step back. I thought that if I just let him be, I wouldn't be fulfilling my duties or role as a mom. But, stepping back was the best thing for us. I realised that play takes on many forms based on a child's age, stage of development and to be honest, his mood.
And today, my learnings and experience as both a mom and educator led us to design our indigrow goodies based on the 6 different forms of play.
Unoccupied Play or 'Free Play'
Unoccupied play or Free Play is when babies or young children are completely free to explore the world around them. They are free to move, think or imagine. It allows them the practice looking at and playing with materials without any fixed objective or goal. It helps them understand how the world works. It sets the stage for other types of play.
Our A To Z of India On-the-Go Flashcards are perfect for this type of play. It allows them to explore materials that are easy to hold and grasp, safe for little hands and allows complete freedom to play on their own terms. It's been designed to be 'parent free' and can be attached to a pram, a car seat or a play mat gym to be explored and experienced by little ones.
Our Colours of India Baby Board Book has vibrant colours and repetitive words that encourage little ones to explore their imagination freely. The pages are sturdy enough to hold without tearing and don't need a parent's supervision.
Our A to Z of India Memory Game are easy to grasp and encourage little ones to sort, stack and pile on their own.
Pro Tip: Completely free does not mean 'unsupervised'. It just means without parent intervention or facilitation. Do keep an eye on your babies and little ones, from a safety perspective.
Solitary Play or 'Play by Myself'
Solitary Play or Play by myself is when children entertain themselves without needing any other social interactions with other children. They are happy to explore their environment and create their own games and play with their own toys. As an adult, we may feel concerned that our child is playing alone. But, it's actually perfectly normal. When children play by themselves, they are learning skills to eventually play with others. They are quietly working on their own, learning to master their own individual motor development, problem solving and cognitive thinking skills. They are working on their patience, attention to detail, ability to focus and self motivate and quietly building their self esteem and confidence.
Our A To Z of India Giant Floor Puzzle or our Colours of India 6 in 1 Progressive Puzzle is perfect for this type of play. It encourages them to work quietly by themselves. When it is paired with our A To Z of India Alphabet Storybook or our Colours of India Story Book , it allows them to explore and challenge themselves with a familiar context. They can also listen to our songs here, happily by themselves!
Having read the book with their parent and then working on the puzzle, it allows them to connect their visual images and vocabulary from the books to the puzzles. It helps build their patience, problem solving, spatial recognition but also provides them with a sense of achievement when they complete the task. They also enjoy looking through the books on their own, each time recognising and learning something new.
Pro Tip: Solitary Play or 'Play by myself' is that perfect opportunity to put your feet up, enjoy that coffee before it gets cold or maybe even indulge in that well deserved glass of wine.
Onlooker Play or 'Look and Play'
You may have seen your child standing on the side of the playground, watching other children play. Or at school, during recess, your child may be quietly watching and not joining in. As parents, we may feel a little concerned that our child is not engaging with other children or is perhaps shy or scared to approach other children. But, observing other children play is a normal form of play for many children. Like adults who sit in a coffee shop and 'people watch', similarly, children learn a lot by just observing other children or adults. They learn how to interact, they observe the skills required to do certain things, their brains are constantly processing all that they see.
Our Colours of India Family Snap Card Game encourages your little one to observe while the whole family plays. It's great for watching their sibling play with their parents. It allows them to observe and process the rules of the game and how everybody is interacting with each other.
Little ones often love to watch their parents or older siblings solving the A to Z of India Giant Floor Puzzle. As they observe, their little brains are continuously processing how the pieces fit together.
Read aloud story time with our Colours of India Story Book is perfect for little ones who love to listen and observe. They are continuously watching how you read, listening to the words you say, the expressions you make, it's all slowly getting registered in their little minds.
Pro Tip: 'Look and Play' is perfect way to initiate your child into new activities. Just start playing or reading and let your child observe you. Watching you, they will slowly start to practise and master whatever you introduce them to. Just make sure you're having fun too. Like the name of this type of play suggests, they are watching. So don't fake it. Trust us, they'll know. :)
Parallel Play or 'Side by Side Play'
This type of play occurs when children are playing alongside each other but not socially interacting. They are happy to be in the same environment but each one is doing their own thing. They are exploring the idea of playing in the same vicinity of another child, they are learning to share both personal and physical space. One child may be playing with a car and the other child may be building blocks but they are comfortably sharing the same physical space.
Our A to Z of India On-the-Go Flashcards & A to Z of India Memory Match Up Game are perfect for children learning to play alongside one another. The flashcards can be easily removed from the ring and each child can play with their own flashcards. Sorting, stacking & piling up the cards - our versatile Memory Game encourages children to create their own ways of playing with it. Perfect for play dates. The perfect beginning to a little 'side by side' Desi Culture Play.
Pro Tip: Try to avoid pushing them to play with each other. Invite a child over, ensure that the toys you keep out there are enough to go around and sit back and let them explore playing side by side. Don't put out any toys that your child is especially attached to.
Associative Play or 'Related Play''
At this stage, a child starts to engage with another child. They are happy to be playing and socially interacting. This type of play allows them to connect their play but doesn't require too much of communication between them. There are no rules for the play. It allows them to explore playing with another child or adult on their own terms. They can choose how much to interact with the other person. For example, both children may be happy playing with lego blocks but each is working on their own tower.
Our 6 in 1 Colours of India Progressive Puzzle is great for a child starting to engage in related play. There are 6 puzzles in 1 box and allows each child to work on their individual puzzles, while still playing next to one another. It encourages them to start to interact and observe the other child as they work on their own puzzles. It also encourages them to take turns. Similarly, our A to Z of India Memory Match Up Game with its 52 cards allows the children to match, share, play and explore on their own terms. They can choose to find the matching pairs or stack or even giggle as they find hiding places for their cards. It's versatile enough to encourage them to play without set rules. Our A to Z of India Alphabet Storybook is great for storytelling and encourages little ones to engage, ask questions and sparks their imagination. Every page tells a story and based on your little one's individual interest, the story can be recreated by you!
Pro Tip: Your child will determine the extent of interaction with another child . Try not to manage the situation too much but do keep an eye out for occasional conflict. You may need to step in and resolve issues as your child is not yet ready to navigate the social interaction completely on his own.
Cooperative Play or 'Play Together'
Children learn to play together. They learn to cooperate, take turns, communicate their point of view, listen to another child's perspective. They learn to follow rules of the game. They learn to resolve conflicts and problem solve. They learn to negotiate and be part of a team. This type of play forms the basis for their social interactions in the future. Both indoor and outdoor group games encourage children to learn to play together.
Our Colours of India Family Snap Card Game, our A to Z of India Memory Match Up Game and our A to Z of India Giant Floor Puzzle is perfect for this type of play. The rules, the patience, the focus, the communication skills, the problem solving, the cognitive thinking and strategising all helps develop those essential life skills we all need when we 'play together.'
Pro Tip: This type of play is a work in progress and it takes a while for little ones to learn to play together. They build essential life skills through this form of play. Don't expect them to learn without seeing their primary role models play too. That's you by the way (in case you were wondering!) So, join in and make family games a regular feature in your household.
Understanding these different types of play helps take the edge off, allows you to put your feet up and relax. Let your kids choose their own form of play, in their own time. #letthemplay
This blog is the copyright of indigrow. indigrow makes delightful books, games & songs that help little ones all over the world rediscover the magical world of India. Visit us at www.indigrowkids.com