Play is an important part of a child's development. It is spontaneous and fun! It also helps children develop:

  • Motor skills — fine and gross motor
  • Language and socialization skills
  • Understanding of emotions
  • Creativity
  • Problem solving
  • Self-esteem and self-importance

Stages of play:

  • Unoccupied play occurs during the early months of infancy. Children make random movements, which is an initial form of play.
  • Solitary play occurs from about 3-18 months. Children explore their world by watching, grabbing, and moving objects.
  • Onlooker play typically occurs during toddler years. Children watch other children, but there is little effort to join the play.
  • Parallel play occurs 18 months - 2 years. Children are treated alongside other children with little interaction. Role playing such as dressing up and pretending occur during this stage.
  • Associative play occurs between 3-4 years of age. Children become more interested in other children. Children have similar goals, and they learn the do's and don'ts of getting along with others.
  • Social play occurs around the age of 3. Children start to learn the social rules of play, such as give-and-take and cooperation.
  • Constructive play develops in early infancy and continues to develop as your child grows. This starts when children put things in their mouth to see how the item feels/tastes. Children develop constructive play as they use blocks, draw/color, and play in sand. This is where children learn what works and what doesn't work.
  • Cooperative play begins in the preschool years. Play is organized by group goals, and the goals of the group are governed by social rules.


  • Turn off the television, turn off your phone or tablet and get on the floor with them.
  • Find toys that are of interest to the child.
  • Use high energy to increase engagement. For example, use phrases such as "uh oh", oh no", "oops". Use sound effects, laugh, clap, and speak in funny voices.
  • Talk to your child while you are playing. Tell them what you are doing, what you are doing with the objects, and what is going to happen.
  • Play doesn't always involve toys. You can play wrestle, climb, jump, and/or crash using these same methods.
  • Start with toys that are cause-n-effect. If I do this, then this will happen. Children are immediately successful and know they will get the desired result.
  • Demonstrate the intended use of the toy or object. For example, use a play phone, dial the number, and pretend you're talking to grandma.
  • Demonstrate use of the toy or object in other ways. For example, use a banana as a phone, use a cup as a drum, etc.
  • Shoot for success. If you notice your child is struggling, help them to make sure they are successful so they don't give up.
185 S. Marley Rd. New Lenox, IL 60451