Play types according to the ESAR system*
The ESAR system defines exercise play as that which involves the continual repetition of an action for the immediate pleasure it gives. The repetition of actions such as biting, throwing, sucking, beating, manipulation, babbling, etc., may be considered forms of exercise play, and may or may not involve the use of toys.
Exercise play is of fundamental importance for sensory development, and also helps to improve the coordination of different types of movement. It also promotes understanding of causal relationships, as well as early reasoning abilities, the improvement of certain skills and the development of balance. Moreover, it usually promotes self-improvement, since the more one practises, the better the results.
The ESAR system defines symbolic play as that which involves the use of one object to represent another. It is the type of play in which the child ascribes different kinds of significances - some more obvious than others - to objects; he or she acts out imaginary events and real-life scenes through role-play of fictional or real characters. Through symbolic play, children imitate adults, pretending to be daddies, mummies, doctors, teachers, hairdressers, lorry drivers, etc., and this category includes all games in which the adult world is recreated in one way or another, be it through everyday situations or fictional characters.
Symbolic play is of fundamental importance in understanding and assimilating the world around us. Through this type of play, the child learns to differentiate between good and bad, right and wrong, and learns about adult roles. Language development is closely related to this type of play, as children talk continually while they play, whether they are alone or with others. It also stimulates imaginative development and creativity.
The ESAR system defines assembling play as that which involves assembling, stacking, piling, joining and fitting pieces together, etc. This type of play takes place when the child sets him/herself a specific aim - to build something -, and through a series of coordinated movements or actions, achieves this aim.
Assembling play is of fundamental importance in the development of hand-eye coordination, differentiation of shapes and colours, reasoning, spatial organization, attention, reflective thinking, logical memory, concentration, patience and the ability to follow instructions. It also promotes self-esteem and self-improvement.
Play with rules
The ESAR system defines play with rules as that which involves a series of instructions or rules which players have to learn and observe in order to achieve a given aim. Play with rules is of fundamental importance in that it helps to socialize children, teaching them how to win and lose, take turns, observe rules, and respect the opinions and actions of fellow players.
Moreover, it plays a vital role in learning different types of knowledge and skills, and helping to develop language, memory, reasoning, attention and reflective thinking.