Children play in many different ways depending on their interests and age/developmental stage. The different types of play often overlap, and children switch between them randomly and rapidly as they explore and try out new ideas, feelings and relationships through their play.
Research shows that the early years are crucial for brain development (though it's never too late to make a difference, so never give up!). Opportunities to explore and discover through play help with this process. Positive and supportive attachments between children and their parent/carer help them to feel confident in exploring and making choices.
When parents/carers observe their children playing, they discover what their children are interested in. Providing play opportunities that reflect these will encourage children to engage with activities and build their concentration. Being alongside children, so they can see that their parents/carers are interested, will also encourage children to stay focused. Children who are able to explore freely, can use their senses to discover how natural and everyday objects look, sound, feel, smell and taste, what the objects do, and how they can play with them. Babies will learn that there is no right or wrong way to play with things. They gradually learn that some things work and some don’t.
Coping with strong emotions resulting from success or challenges can be difficult, especially for young children. Play can be serious or fun, and it allows babies and children to find out about themselves and their world. Play should provide a safe opportunity to practise for life.
Peep Learning Together Programme sessions are play based. There are lots of ideas for activities that parents/carers and their children can do together in the topics. These are fun as well as supporting learning and relationship-building.