What is play? Do we really understand it, especially as adults?

Most adults think of play as something frivolous that children engage in because they have nothing better to do with their time. However, play is an incredibly important element that plays a huge role in the development of every child. 

So, what exactly is play? Well, play is any activity engaged in for enjoyment and recreation, as opposed to being engaged in for any serious or practical reason. It is voluntary, spontaneous, and needs to be stress free. Play can either be free and unconstrained by rules or time constraints, or structured and designed, with a set of rules guiding the actions of the participants. It can be a solitary activity or a social one. 

Mildred Parten developed the Stages of Play Theory. Stages of Play is a social behavior that she developed after observing preschool age children between the ages of 2 and 5 at free play. 

Mildred Parten’s observations led to the recognition of six different types of play. 

Please click on the link to see Parton’s six different stages of play: