Toddler, Child
29th Oct 2020

Play provides children with the opportunity to explore and connect, but did you know play-based learning is also important for their development?

If you’re unsure about the importance of play for your child, exploring and understanding the different types of play and their unique benefits may help.

What Are The Different Types of Play? 1

Not all play is the same. In fact, there are two distinct types of play children should regularly engage in: unstructured and structured.

Unstructured Play

Unstructured play isn’t planned and allows your child to tap into their imagination.

Some examples of unstructured play include:

  • Creative play with others: like art or music-based activities
  • Imaginative games: like dress-ups or make-believe
  • Exploring new spaces: like the backyard or park

You may like to be part of your child’s unstructured play. Remember to follow their lead and try not to step in unless they become overwhelmed or carried away. After all, unstructured play is a fabulous opportunity for your little one’s creativity to run free and their independence to blossom.

Structured Play

Conversely, structured play is more organised and may happen during an allocated space or time. It is generally organised by a parent or caregiver.

Examples of structured play include:

  • Swimming lessons
  • Team sports
  • Weekly board game nights
  • Dance classes

How Does Play Support Your Child’s Healthy Development?

Whether they’re playing sport, taking a trip to the playground, or constructing a make-believe world in the lounge room, play is an integral part of your little one’s balanced schedule. It allows your child to use and test their imagination, physical and emotional strength without external pressure.

Through play, children engage and interact with the world while creating and exploring the space they can master.

There are several benefits of play for both parents and children:

Play and Independence 2

When your child is in control during playtime, they get to practice decision-making skills and move at their own pace. This allows them to discover and develop their personal interests and passions.

Of course, depending on their age and the activity at hand, adult supervision may be necessary. Just remember to only interfere when strictly necessary.

When playtime is frequently directed by adults, your child may become accustomed to rules and regulations, rather than tapping into their freedom and curiosity.

Play and Physical Health 2-3

With so much of playtime intrinsically entangled with physical activity, it can also support your child’s overall physical health.

Encouraging your little one to move can support their healthy muscle and bone development, maintain their cardiovascular health and help them to lead an active life.

Play and Understanding Your Children 2

When observing your child playing, you’re engaging in a unique opportunity to see how they navigate their world as well as how they interact with others and their surroundings.

Play offers a glimpse into your child’s world, which can help you communicate with them more effectively.

For some children, play can be a way for them to communicate their views or frustrations (for example through drawing), giving parents insight into their little one’s perspective.

What's Next?


  1. (2019). The importance of play in children’s learning and development. [online] Available at:
  2. Ginsburg, K.R. (2007). The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds. PEDIATRICS, [online] 119(1), pp.182–191. Available at:
  3. Raising Children Network. (2019). Why play is important. [online] Available at:

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