The Benefits of Play for Adults - HelpGuide.org (2023)

Just because we’re adults, that doesn’t mean we have to make life all about work. Learn how play can benefit your relationships, job, and mood.

The Benefits of Play for Adults - HelpGuide.org (1)

The importance of adult play

In our hectic, modern lives, many of us focus so heavily on work and family commitments that we never seem to have time for pure fun. Somewhere between childhood and adulthood, we stopped playing. When we carve out some leisure time, we’re more likely to zone out in front of the TV or computer than engage in fun, rejuvenating play like we did as children. But play is not just essential for kids; it can be an important source of relaxation and stimulation for adults as well.

Playing with your romantic partner, friends, co-workers, pets, and children is a sure (and fun) way to fuel your imagination, creativity, problem-solving abilities, and emotional well-being. Adult play is a time to forget about work and commitments, and to be social in an unstructured, creative way.

Play could be simply goofing off with friends, sharing jokes with a coworker, throwing a frisbee on the beach, dressing up on Halloween with your kids, building a snowman in the yard, playing fetch with a dog, acting out charades at a party, or going for a bike ride with your spouse with no destination in mind. There doesn’t need to be any point to the activity beyond having fun and enjoying yourself. By giving yourself permission to play with the joyful abandon of childhood, you can reap oodles of health benefits throughout life.

The benefits of play

While play is crucial for a child's development, it is also beneficial for people of all ages. Play can add joy to life, relieve stress, supercharge learning, and connect you to others and the world around you. Play can also make work more productive and pleasurable.

[Read: Cultivating Happiness]

You can play on your own or with a pet, but for greater benefits, play should involve at least one other person, away from the sensory-overload of electronic gadgets.

Play helps:

Relieve stress. Play is fun and can trigger the release of endorphins, the body's natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.

Improve brain function. Playing chess, completing puzzles, or pursuing other fun activities that challenge the brain can help prevent memory problems and improve brain function. The social interaction of playing with family and friends can also help ward off stress and depression.

Stimulate the mind and boost creativity. Young children often learn best when they are playing—a principle that applies to adults, as well. You'll learn a new task better when it's fun and you're in a relaxed and playful mood. Play can also stimulate your imagination, helping you adapt and solve problems.

Improve relationships and your connection to others. Sharing laughter and fun can foster empathy, compassion, trust, and intimacy with others. Play doesn't have to include a specific activity; it can also be a state of mind. Developing a playful nature can help you loosen up in stressful situations, break the ice with strangers, make new friends, and form new business relationships.

Keep you feeling young and energetic. In the words of George Bernard Shaw, “We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” Play can boost your energy and vitality and even improve your resistance to disease, helping you function at your best.

Play and relationships

Play is one of the most effective tools for keeping relationships fresh and exciting. Playing together brings joy, vitality, and resilience to relationships. Play can also heal resentments, disagreements, and hurts. Through regular play, we learn to trust one another and feel safe.

(Video) The Importance of Play

Trust enables us to work together, open ourselves to intimacy, and try new things. By making a conscious effort to incorporate more humor and play into your daily interactions, you can improve the quality of your love relationships—as well as your connections with co-workers, family members, and friends.

Play helps develop and improve social skills. Social skills are learned as part of the give and take of play. During childhood play, kids learn about verbal communication, body language, boundaries, cooperation, and teamwork. As adults, you continue to refine these skills through play and playful communication.

Play teaches cooperation with others. Play is a powerful catalyst for positive socialization. Through play, children learn how to “play nicely” with others—to work together, follow mutually agreed upon rules, and socialize in groups. As adults, you can continue to use play to break down barriers and improve your relationships with others.

[Read: Tips for Building a Healthy Relationship]

Play can heal emotional wounds. As adults, when you play together, you are engaging in exactly the same patterns of behavior that positively shape the brains of children. These same playful behaviors that predict emotional health in children can also lead to positive changes in adults. If an emotionally insecure individual plays with a secure partner, for example, it can help replace negative beliefs and behaviors with positive assumptions and actions.

Fixing relationship problems with humor and play

Play and laughter perform an essential role in building strong, healthy relationships by bringing people closer together, creating a positive bond, and resolving conflict and disagreements. In new relationships, play and humor can be an effective tool not just for attracting the other person but also for overcoming any awkwardness or embarrassment that arises during the dating and getting-to-know-you process. Flirting is a prime example of how play and humor are used in adult interactions. In longer-term relationships, play can keep your connection exciting, fresh and vibrant, while also deepening intimacy. It can also help you overcome differences and the tiny aggravations that may build up over time.

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(Video) Therapy Thursday: The Importance of Play

Play at work

Many dot-com companies have long recognized the link between productivity and a fun work environment. Some encourage play and creativity by offering art or yoga classes, throwing regular parties, providing games such as Foosball or ping pong, or encouraging recess-like breaks during the workday for employees to play and let off steam. These companies know that more play at work results in more productivity, higher job satisfaction, greater workplace morale, and a decrease in employees skipping work and staff turnover.

[Read: Finding the Right Career]

If you're fortunate enough to work for such a company, embrace the culture; if your company lacks the play ethic, you can still inject your own sense of play into breaks and lunch hours. Keep a camera or sketch pad on hand and take creative breaks when you can. Joke with coworkers during coffee breaks, relieve stress at lunch by shooting hoops, playing cards, or completing word puzzles together. It can strengthen the bond you have with your coworkers as well as improve your job performance. For people with mundane jobs, maintaining a sense of play can make a real difference to the work day by helping to relieve boredom.

Using play to boost productivity and innovation

Success at work doesn't depend on the amount of time you work; it depends upon the quality of your work. And the quality of your work is highly dependent on your well-being.

Taking the time to replenish yourself through play is one of the best ways you can help your career. When the project you're working on hits a serious glitch, take some time out to play and have a few laughs. Taking a pause for play does a lot more than take your mind off the problem. When you play, you engage the creative side of your brain and silence your “inner editor,” that psychological barrier that censors your thoughts and ideas. This can often help you see the problem in a new light and think up fresh, creative solutions.

Playing at work:

  • keeps you functional when under stress
  • refreshes your mind and body
  • encourages teamwork
  • increases energy and prevents burnout
  • triggers creativity and innovation
  • helps you see problems in new ways

Tips for managers and employers

It's tempting to think that the best way to cope with an ever-increasing workload is to push your employees to work longer and harder. However, without some recreation time, it's more likely that the work will suffer and your workers will become chronically overwhelmed and burned out. Encouraging play, on the other hand, creates a more lighthearted work atmosphere that in turn encourages employees to take more creative risks.

  • Provide opportunities for social interaction among employees. Throw parties, put a basketball hoop in the parking lot, arrange a miniature golf tournament, stage an office treasure hunt.
  • Encourage creative thinking or just lighten the mood of meetings by keeping tactile puzzles on the conference room table.
  • Encourage workers to take regular breaks from their desks, and spend a few minutes engaged in a fun activity, such as a word or number game.

Playing with your children

Rolling on the floor with your baby or getting down on your knees to play with a young child is vitally important—both to your child's development and to your own health.

Play is essential for developing social, emotional, cognitive, and physical skills in children. In fact, far from being a waste of time or just a fun distraction, play is a time when your child is often learning the most. Whether it's an infant playing “peek-a-boo,” a toddler playing make-believe, or an older child playing a board game, play develops social skills, stimulates a child's imagination and makes kids better adjusted, smarter, and less stressed.

As well as aiding your child's development, play can also bring you closer together and strengthen the parent-child bond that will last a lifetime.

(Video) Why are play and laughter so important? And why would you hire someone to help you play & laugh?

How to play with your child

While children need time to play alone and with other children, playing with their parents is also important. Here are some helpful tips to encourage play:

Establish regular play times. It may be for twenty minutes before dinner every night or every Saturday morning, for example. Remember, this time spent playing together is benefiting both of you.

Give your child your undivided attention. Turn off the TV and your cell phone and make time to play with your child without distraction. Having your undivided attention makes your child feel special.

Get down to your child's level. That may mean getting down on your knees or sitting on the floor. Match your child's intensity during play—if your child is loud and energetic, be loud and energetic, too.

Embrace repetition. It may be boring to you, but it's not to your child. Children learn through repetition. Let your child play the same game over and over. Your child will move on when he or she is ready.

Let your children take the lead. Become part of their game rather than trying to dictate the play. In pretend play, let your child call the shots, make the rules, and determine the pace of play. Ask questions and follow along—you'll likely get drawn into imaginative new worlds that are fun for you, too.

Don't force play or try to prolong a game. The best way to teach a new skill is to show children how something works, then step back and give them a chance to try it. When your child grows tired of an activity, it's time to move on to something new.

Make play age-appropriate and consider safety. If a game is too hard or too easy, it loses its sense of pleasure and fun. Help your child find age-appropriate activities and understand any safety rules for play. Nothing ruins a fun game faster than a child getting hurt.

How to play more

Incorporating more fun and play into your daily life can improve the quality of your relationships, as well as your mood and outlook. Even in the most difficult of times, taking time away from your troubles to play or laugh can go a long way toward making you feel better. It's true what they say: laughter really is the best medicine. Laughter makes you feel good. And the positive feeling that comes from laughter and having fun remains with you even after the giggles subside. Play and laughter help you retain a positive, optimistic outlook through difficult situations, disappointments, and loss.

Develop your playful side

It's never too late to develop your playful, humorous side. If you find yourself limiting your playfulness, it's possible that you're self-conscious and concerned about how you'll look and sound to others when attempting to be lighthearted. Fearing rejection, embarrassment or ridicule when trying to be playful is understandable. Adults often worry that being playful will get them labeled as childish. But what is so wrong with that? Children are incredibly creative, inventive and are constantly learning. Wouldn't you want to be childish if that is the definition? Remember that as a child, you were naturally playful; you didn't worry about the reactions of other people. You can reclaim your inner child by setting aside regular, quality playtime. The more you play, joke, and laugh—the easier it becomes.

Try to clear your schedule for an afternoon or evening, for example, and then turn off your phone, TV, computer, and other devices. Give yourself permission to do whatever you want for the time you've allotted. Be spontaneous, set aside your inhibitions and try something fun, something you haven't done since you were a kid, perhaps. And enjoy the change of pace.

Creating opportunities to play

Host a regular game night with friends or family.

Arrange nights out with work colleagues: bowling, playing pool, miniature golf, or singing karaoke.

(Video) The Importance of Play - Part 2

Schedule time in a park or at the beach to throw a Frisbee or fly a kite with friends.

Play with a pet. Puppies, especially, make very willing playmates. If you don't have your own, borrow one from your local animal shelter.

Surround yourself with playful people. They'll help loosen you up and are more likely to support your efforts to play and have fun.

Joke with strangers at a bus stop or in a checkout line. It'll make the time pass quicker and you may even spark up new friendships.

Visit a magic store and learn some tricks. Or invest in art supplies, construction toys, or science kits and create something new.

Play with children. Goofing around with kids helps you experience the joy of play from their perspective. If you don't have young children, arrange a play date with your grandkids, nephews, nieces, or other young relatives.

Authors: Lawrence Robinson, Melinda Smith, M.A., Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., and Jennifer Shubin

    Around the web

    Last updated: October 7, 2022

    (Video) The Benefits of Daily Exercise

    FAQs

    What are the 10 benefits of play? ›

    The 10 Benefits of Play
    • It Builds a Healthy Body. ...
    • It Builds a Healthy Brain. ...
    • It Teaches Emotional Intelligence and Boosts Self-Esteem. ...
    • Play Builds Healthy Friendships and Romantic Relationships. ...
    • It Forges a Healthy Parent–Child Relationship. ...
    • It Teaches Cooperation. ...
    • Play Teaches Problem Solving. ...
    • It Stimulates Creativity.
    8 Sept 2018

    What are the benefits of play? ›

    Frequent, daily play can help reduce anxiety, stress and irritability. It also helps boost joy and self-esteem. Adults observing children at play can help them better understand emotions by naming them.

    Why is it important for adults to support children's play? ›

    Play improves the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children and young people. Through play, children learn about the world and themselves. They also learn skills they need for study, work and relationships such as: confidence.

    How can adults be more playful? ›

    Appreciate playtime – whether it's alone or with other adults or children. Smile and laugh often throughout the day. Try new things and experience the unexpected. Participate in a variety of arts/sports/activities whenever you can to expand your horizons.

    Should adults play with toys? ›

    But modern research has shown that playing with toys is actually good for adults and can help reduce stress. One study even found that being “playful” makes you more attractive -- so really, musky Play-Doh and a tiny replica of Jerry Seinfeld's bachelor pad may actually turn out to be the ultimate aphrodisiac.

    Why is learning through play important? ›

    Understanding the Value of Play

    Children learn best through first-hand experiences—play motivates, stimulates and supports children in their development of skills, concepts, language acquisition, communication skills, and concentration.

    What are the different types of play? ›

    Types of play
    • Physical play. Physical play can include dancing or ball games. ...
    • Social play. By playing with others, children learn how to take turns, cooperate and share. ...
    • Constructive play. Constructive play allows children to experiment with drawing, music and building things. ...
    • Fantasy play. ...
    • Games with rules.

    Why are the first 5 years of life important? ›

    In fact children's brains develop connections faster in the first five years than at any other time in their lives. This is the time when the foundations for learning, health and behaviour throughout life are laid down. Babies are born ready to learn, and their brains develop through use.

    What are the emotional benefits of play? ›

    Emotional development: Especially in social and guided play, children learn self-regulation as they follow norms and pay attention while experiencing feelings such as anticipation or frustration. Play also teaches children how to set and change rules, and how to decide when to lead and when to follow.

    What are the 7 types of play? ›

    The types of play include physical, dramatic, sensory, nature, music and art, and age-appropriate play. Children need the various types of play in order to support and facilitate meaningful learning opportunities as they develop language, motor, social, emotional, and cognitive abilities.

    What are the 6 types of play? ›

    Researcher Mildred Parten identified these six stages of play that children progress through.
    ...
    Parten's six stages of play
    • Unoccupied play. ...
    • Solitary play. ...
    • Onlooker play. ...
    • Parallel play. ...
    • Associative play. ...
    • Cooperative play.
    6 Oct 2015

    What are examples of play for adults? ›

    Your play state may come from something active, like hiking, or something creative, like painting, or something social, like meeting a friend, or even something solitary, like reading a book. There are many types of play!

    Why is adult led play so important? ›

    Adult-led activities provide opportunities for introducing new knowledge or ideas, and for developing and practising skills. The activities can provide a new stimulus, or an opportunity to revisit or further develop learning. Sometimes the activities could be prompted by children's interests as observed in their play.

    What is the importance of age stage appropriate adults and child interaction? ›

    Choosing age-appropriate play activities isn't only about safety, it's vital for their early year's development. The right age-appropriate play exercises give children the chance to express and enjoy themselves, explore their imaginations, and develop crucial skills.

    Can adults do play therapy? ›

    Play therapy is a type of therapy that utilizes play as the method for communication instead of the traditional talk therapy. It is most often used with children, but it can also be used with adults regardless of age, ethnicity, or background.

    What do adults like? ›

    17 Things You Actually Love Once You're A Full-On Adult
    • Taking naps on weekends and "remote" days. ...
    • Getting practical gifts like socks and scarves for holidays. ...
    • Quiet bars so you can actually hear your friends speak. ...
    • Going grocery shopping, tbh. ...
    • Signing up for rewards programs and getting those sweet discounts.
    12 Nov 2019

    Do you think adults need time to play? ›

    For children and adults alike, play creates a sense of community. Engaging in adult play can increase social well-being and intimacy in relationships. Play relieves stress and can have a positive impact on mental health. Adults need time to play just as much as children do.

    Is it okay for adults to play? ›

    But play is not just essential for kids; it can be an important source of relaxation and stimulation for adults as well. Playing with your romantic partner, friends, co-workers, pets, and children is a sure (and fun) way to fuel your imagination, creativity, problem-solving abilities, and emotional well-being.

    Why do adults collect toys? ›

    “The real reason people collect toys is, even as adults, they give us something to remember about the past,” says Kayoko Takahashi, owner of Spiral Toys in Japan. “I think collecting toys nourishes your heart.”

    How can adults make learning fun? ›

    12 Types of Classroom Activities for Adults | Examples to Engage Learners in Training Sessions
    1. Quizzes.
    2. Buzz Groups.
    3. Snowballing.
    4. Brainstorming.
    5. Discussions and Group Learning.
    6. Debates.
    7. Presentations.
    8. Role-play.
    3 days ago

    What skills play can teach individuals? ›

    Play Develops Cognitive, Critical Thinking, & Motor Skills

    Children learn numeracy and literacy skills through playing with various toys and books and demonstrate their thinking as they talk about what they are doing.

    What is an example of learning through play? ›

    Music, Dancing, and Singing. Singing and music hugely help to develop language and form the basis of literacy skills, as well as basic mathematical concepts such as counting. Furthermore, they begin to develop rhythm, whilst also refining their listening skills.

    What are the 5 characteristics of play? ›

    Here are five elements essential to meaningful play that create those rich memories we treasure:
    • Children make their own decisions. ...
    • Children are intrinsically motivated. ...
    • Children become immersed in the moment. ...
    • Play is spontaneous, not scripted. ...
    • Play is enjoyable.

    What are the five stages of play? ›

    As children get older, the way they interact with other people during play will change. These changes are called “stages of play”.
    ...
    They are:
    • unoccupied.
    • playing alone.
    • onlooker.
    • parallel.
    • associative.
    • cooperative.

    What are the 3 main areas of play development? ›

    Jean Piaget identified three stages of play – practice play, symbolic play and games with rules.

    At what age is a child most influenced? ›

    Formal cultural consensus analysis of responses met criteria for strong agreement that the period for greatest impact of parenting on a child's development occurs at adolescence, at a median age of 12 years.

    What is an example of toxic stress? ›

    Examples of toxic stress include abuse, neglect, extreme poverty, violence, household dysfunction, and food scarcity. Caretakers with substance abuse or mental health conditions also predispose a child to a toxic stress response.

    What age is most important for brain development? ›

    One of the main reasons is how fast the brain grows starting before birth and continuing into early childhood. Although the brain continues to develop and change into adulthood, the first 8 years can build a foundation for future learning, health and life success.

    How does play build self esteem? ›

    There are many ways in which a child develops self-belief through play, including:
    • Exploration. He has an intrinsic desire to learn about his surroundings and he must explore to satisfy this curiosity. ...
    • Movement. ...
    • Imagination. ...
    • Creativity. ...
    • Sociability. ...
    • Problem-solving. ...
    • Language.
    13 Feb 2001

    How does play promote self esteem? ›

    Self-Confidence and Self-Esteem

    Free play also encourages children to develop skills that build self-confidence, such as conflict resolution and imaginative dramatic play. Social development with children—and the ability to play on their own—are also important factors in building self-confidence.

    Why is free play important? ›

    Free play creates an opportunity for children to explore their world in their own way and helps foster creativity and using their imagination, so Khanom and Zaman recommend starting at an early age.

    What are the 4 stages of play? ›

    Jean Piaget's theory of cognitive development has four stages of play: functional play, constructive play, symbolic/fantasy play, and games with rules.

    What is manipulative play? ›

    Manipulative play refers to activities where children move, order, turn or screw items to make them fit.

    What makes a play a play? ›

    A play is a work of drama, usually consisting mostly of dialogue between characters and intended for theatrical performance rather than just reading.

    What is the first stage of play? ›

    Unoccupied Play

    In the first few months of life children typically begin this first common form of play. This is the stage of development where babies or young children seemingly make a lot of random movements with their arms, legs, hands, and feet, but they do not engage with others.

    What is the development of play? ›

    Literacy and numeracy development - play requires thinking, language, interactions, curiosity and exploration. Through play children develop skills and understandings including: an increased understanding of words and their use. listening and speaking skills. writing skills through scribbling, painting and drawing.

    What do you do for fun adult? ›

    Fun adult play activity ideas to try out:
    • Color with adult coloring books. Or kids coloring books, because who cares! ...
    • Get a journal for bullet journaling. ...
    • Write snail mail. ...
    • Try hand lettering. ...
    • Paint. ...
    • Read fiction. ...
    • Fun outdoor games. ...
    • Do outdoor sports activities.

    Why is play important for mental health speech? ›

    We argue that stimulating play behaviour enhances the adaptability of a child to a (chronic) stressful condition and promotes cognitive, social, emotional and psychomotor functioning, thereby strengthening the basis for their future health.

    What role do adults play in children's learning? ›

    Parents and caregivers play a huge role in their child's physical literacy development. Not only do you provide opportunities for children to play in safe, stimulating environments, you also expose children to new skills.

    What the difference between adult led and child led play? ›

    Adults oversee playful learning experiences like games, activities, and social events during adult-led play, but kids are in control during child-led play. Child-led play is a child-directed experience unaffected by adult motives, responsibilities, or rules.

    What is the adults role in child initiated play? ›

    The adult's role in child initiated play

    They provide a safe environment for the child to explore and test out their ideas. Adults may use the child's interests or next steps to develop play through offering a breadth of opportunities or resources for the child to use in a variety of ways.

    What are adult child interaction strategies? ›

    Say Less: use short simple sentences Stress: make important words stand out Go Slow: slow down your speech when you talk with your child Show: point, show, add actions, gestures, signs or pictures Using the 4 S's makes language more accessible for your child to understand and then use when they are ready.

    How adult interaction can extend the learning and development of children? ›

    Being with others helps children to build social relationships which provide opportunities for friendship, empathy and sharing emotions. Research shows that good interactions between adults and children make a big difference to how well communication and language skills develop.

    Is it okay for adults to play games? ›

    “Our research confirms that video games contribute to positive mental well-being, help develop important life skills and offer connection and joy,” Pierre-Louis says. “More broadly, 97% of Americans agree that video games have positive benefits.”

    Does playing help mental health? ›

    Play helps reduce stress levels

    Playing games, dancing and singing are great ways to relieve stress for both your child and you. When you're enjoying fun moments and laughing together, your body releases endorphins that promote a feeling of well-being.

    What are some skills we acquire through play? ›

    7 Essential Life Skills Children Develop Through Play
    • Problem-Solving Skills. ...
    • Motor Development Skills. ...
    • Language Skills. ...
    • Spatial Skills and Coordination. ...
    • Communication and Negotiation Skills. ...
    • Creative Skills. ...
    • Pre-Reading and Reading Comprehension Skills.
    25 Mar 2020

    Why is play important for mental health speech? ›

    We argue that stimulating play behaviour enhances the adaptability of a child to a (chronic) stressful condition and promotes cognitive, social, emotional and psychomotor functioning, thereby strengthening the basis for their future health.

    Why does playing games make someone feel happy? ›

    They have an easy escape from the stress of life.

    Playing video games is a great way to de-stress from the demands of everyday life and do something that you enjoy just for the sake of enjoying it.

    How many adults play games? ›

    More than 214 million Americans play video games.

    Out of 214.4 million gamers, 51.1 million are children, while 163.3 million are adults.

    Is it immature for adults to play video games? ›

    The End. Well, if it wasn't already obvious, no, we don't think that adults who play video games are immature. Definitely not across the board. You can be a gamer at absolutely any age, and there are more reasons than ever before to become a gamer for the very first time.

    Do you think adults need time to play? ›

    For children and adults alike, play creates a sense of community. Engaging in adult play can increase social well-being and intimacy in relationships. Play relieves stress and can have a positive impact on mental health. Adults need time to play just as much as children do.

    Do adults learn through play? ›

    We've come to accept that play as an important part of a healthy child's development, but who says they have a lien on play's advantages? Definitely not science. Studies and research show that adults, too, have a lot to gain from the act of playing.

    How does play relieve stress? ›

    Play gives children a sense of control because, by definition, play is what we engage in because we want to, not because we have to. Fantasy play allows children to create a world where they decide what happens and they can predict what goes on. Control and predictability are two pillars of stress reduction.

    Why is learning through play important? ›

    Through play and with the use of educational toys, children learn many different skills they will need in their life such as: Problem solving and learning cause and effect. Learning how to play with others through compromise, conflict resolution and sharing. Development of fine and gross motor skills.

    How does play affect social development? ›

    Social development: Playing with others means noticing social cues, listening, and taking another person's perspective — key aspects to developing empathy. Social play also requires children to share ideas and express feelings while negotiating and reaching compromises.

    How does play help brain development? ›

    Through play, babies explore their environment and make sense of new and different information. The experiences babies have during play help strengthen and expand networks of connections in their developing brains. During the early years, babies' brains form many more connections than the brain will ever need.

    What are the six stages of play? ›

    There are 6 stages of play during early childhood - all of which are important for all areas of development.
    • Unoccupied play – 0-3 months.
    • Solitary play – 0-2 years.
    • Onlooker play – 2 years.
    • Parallel play – 2-3 years.
    • Associate play – 2-3 years.
    • Cooperative/social play – 4-6 years.

    What are the characteristics of play? ›

    Play can be distinguished from other behaviours by the observation of the following nine characteristic:
    • Self- directed.
    • Adventurous or risky.
    • Voluntary or self-chosen.
    • Meaningful.
    • Pleasurable.
    • Active.
    • Symbolic.
    • Process orientated.

    Is learning through play effective? ›

    When children engage in real‐life and imaginary activities, play can challenge children's thinking. Children learn best through first-hand experiences—play motivates, stimulates and supports children in their development of skills, concepts, language acquisition, communication skills, and concentration.

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