Young Children Learn a Lot When They Play

This brochure introduces parents of preschool children to the importance of peer playing. For many children, this comes naturally as they attend child care, play with extended family, or participate in local play groups. For some families, opportunities to play with other children may be less frequent.

When children play with others their own age, they learn to cooperate and problem solve, allowing development of empathy and conflict resolution skills. The brochure offers practical hints for parents to help children learn how to play, make the playing opportunities successful, and problem solve conflicts that may arise. This brochure includes suggestions from focus groups with parents.

The brochure also assists parents in problem solving common difficulties, aggression and rejection. Both of these are common in social relationships. Developing skills to handle aggression and rejection early helps children play cooperatively in school and do better socially and academically later in life. Children who do not acquire these skills prior to school are at risk for a number of problem behaviors, including violence.

How to Use This Tool

  • Discuss child development by asking, "Does your child have any opportunities to play with other kids his own age?" There will be a variety of responses from families, which will lead to either a discussion of how to find other children to play with or a brief discussion of how the child plays.
  • Model problem solving during the visit. For example, if there are any difficulties with peers, use this time to problem solve the child's play and playmate situations.
Helpful Hint

Try to notice something about the child's attire, toys they bring, or behavior."I see you really like trucks. Do you and your friends play with trucks a lot?"

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