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Different Styles of Play in a Preschool Classroom

Do you ever observe a preschool aged child playing by themselves, or a pre k

child that only likes to play with one other friend? Or do you see a child who
only observes other children playing and won’t join in? You may ask, what are
these different styles or preferences of playing and what do they mean?

Read below for the answers to your questions.

On looking Play: this is the child who observes other children playing but will
not physically participate. They are spectators of play.

These children should be encouraged to join and play with one child at first, and
then when comfortable with that add a few more children into the mix. You will
want to encourage an on looking child to play socially with others as early as
possible to avoid social set backs in the future. An example would be to play a
game where a child has one partner, next a game with two or more partners, etc.

Competitive Play: two or more children who play in a group or groups of

children competing to win in games such as sports for example.

This is a great way for the children to play altogether as long as the competitive
aspect does not get out of hand and the fun is taken out of the play.

Co-operative Play: this play is organized, there is a common goal involved

when playing such as two or more children putting together a large floor puzzle
together, or building a tower together. They feel as though they belong to that
specific play group.

This is great play for children to engage in. Is promotes sharing and co-
operation with others.

Associative Play: there is no organization of a particular activity. The children

may be playing a similar activity and may share their toys and/or play ideas.

This play is also good as it increases their imagination, play skills, and sharing.

Parallel Play: is two children who are playing side by side. Each child is
involved in their own activity and there is no exchanging of materials or play
This play is also good as long as the children are also known for playing in
groups, children need some time to themselves when playing and parallel play is
quite common.

Solitary Play: this is when a child focuses on satisfying their own needs. The
child is somewhat egocentric. They have no interest in sharing with others or
communicating with others during play.

This is quite common play as well, and although some solitary play is needed for
a child, playing with others should be encouraged daily. Social skills are a very
important part of a child’s whole development. (Physical, Intellectual, Language,
Emotional, and Social)

*For Other Great Preschool Lesson Plans & Activities for Parents &