Types of Play; Functional Play
In November and December we’ll be looking at the different types of play that children use, hopefully this will be helpful in letting you understand your child’s needs and plan some great Christmas gifts.
Functional Play In Brief
What: Repeated actions that a child enjoys.
When: Up to about 24 months.
Why: Learning new information about their environment while improving practical skills.
Functional play starts early and lasts noticeably until the child is 24 months although you’ll observe it throughout childhood.
In this phase a chid will become absorbed by one action. In their first days this might be something as simple as watching a mobile or grasping a clutch toy. As they add new skills to their repertoire they will engage in more complex repeated actions like putting a ball in a box, pouring water or throwing items from a table. As they grow even older it might be something like playing on a swing or doing keepy-uppys.
During the functional play phase children will delight in the realities of an object. A bottle will be gloriously exciting because it is a bottle, with curves, textures, and sounds that only a bottle can have. You can bash it off a table, roll it across the floor, take the lid on and off, pour from it, the list goes on! In each of these situations it will respond exactly how a bottle should and a child will cement their knowledge of the world as well as increasing their sense of control over their environment.
For your little one a bottle (or a box or a ball) can be just as exciting as a sensory play activity that you found on Pinterest and spent hours setting up!
Functional Play and Montessori
The Montessori infant materials allow for a child to engage in repeated actions and to practice developmentally appropriate fine and gross motor skills.
They are particularly effective for accommodating the Functional Play phase as they isolate the stimulus and have a strong control of error, meaning each item performs only one function and the child knows without intervention when they have completed the task.
Pictured above are some ideas for materials to accommodate the Functional Play phase – Imbucare Boxes, First Infant Puzzles, dowels and bead mazes are all a good place to start. Many opportunities can also be found in real life through practical life activities – wiping a table, sweeping a floor, putting away blocks and washing hands.
All this makes so much sense when tbe twins were younger the repititive piece used have us wondering what they were doing, wish you had written this at the time:)
Better late than never!!