The six types of play your child benefits from

Did you know that different kinds of play help your child’s development in unique ways? It isn’t just about one thing! According to recent academic research, scientists have identified a key six different categories of play – and they’ve defined those categories and the benefits they bring clearly.

To the surprise of many, it has now been found that these categories are very important developmentally, be it by investing in reliable Playground Equipment or ensuring your child has a suitable range of outdoor stimuli to interact with.

With that laid out, let’s take a look now at each of these categories and what they mean for your child or children you help care for.


It’s beneficial for your child to play alongside and with other children if they’re able to. Playing together around the age of four and five onwards is a special time known as the last stage of Parten’s theory. In this period of your child’s development, they start to find cooperative actions and team-based activities much more enjoyable. 

This helps them to develop skills that will be more important in adult life, such as problem-solving.


Many parents often report with interest how their child will sit with another and seem to nevertheless play by themselves. It’s often reported with alarm under the false impression it’s an issue. It is, in fact, now known as parallel play – and it’s important for developing social skills and for mimicking people.

If you see this kind of play, don’t interrupt it and don’t be worried. Your child’s just fine!


It’s similar to the above, but it’s remarkably different in what it does for children. This is particularly true for ages three and four, where children develop their ability to communicate and work as part of a team together. 

This is lovely to see and is an important aspect of their growth.


All by themselves is a great thing! Playing alone is important for any child, helping them to develop themselves further. This is particularly common in younger kids – think years two and three. The activity itself can vary quite a lot, so don’t be worried if your kid prefers to look at a book or play around with a favoured toy of theirs.

This is a valuable thing for your child to learn. Solitary playing helps them to become self-reliant and less “needy”. It’s also a nice break for you! 


Perhaps most intriguing of them all is when your child simply appears to sit alone and seemingly do little. This is nothing to be alarmed or worried by; unoccupied play is seen at a peak around age two and is important for your child’s development.

Think of it as a passive playtime where they relax and observe themselves and the world. It’s healthy, perfectly normal and all part of their development into the wonderful adult they are sure to be! If you see this, give them space and let them enjoy themselves.

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