Tips For Play In Kindergarten Aged Kids

More and more kids are having trouble playing as their play time is displaced by other things like screens. This can lead to difficulties in developing a sense of self, developing preferences, developing social skills, developing language, and developing emotional intelligence. 

What is the key form of learning and development for children kindergarten aged (3-5 years)? PLAY!

As a parent you may wonder how to best support your child develop play skills. You may also wonder, how do I fit in play with my child amongst all the other things I have to do in my everyday. Well, here are a few tips for the parents:



Set an alarm for 10-15minutes a day where you de-tech (put away phones, computers, iPads, and turn off all TVs).


Ask What Would YOU Like To PLAY?

Ask your child what they would like to play. They might say dress ups, mums and dads, schools, zoos and the list goes on.


Be In The Play

Engage wholeheartedly and whole bodily in the play!

How you might ask?



Allow yourself to get completely immersed in the play and allow your child to lead the play, but don’t be afraid to offer your own ideas.  Encourage your child to extend the play with a “what next” or “how did that happen” question.


Kindy Teachers

For all the Kindergarten teachers out there, thank you for supporting your students’ play. If you are stuck for ideas, here are a few below to add to your arsenal:


1. Change up the THEMES

Why? This encourages kids to try different play and negotiate different roles within play. Put out toys and items that encourage different themes in play (essential services e.g. fire, police; fantasy e.g. fairies, pirates, cowboys; professionals e.g. doctors, vets, teachers).



Why? This encourages kids to think imaginatively and  create ideas as well as supporting flexible thinking.  Ensure you have some boxes, tubes, material, foam, netting, ribbons, ropes, tubs and spare paper around so that the children can make these items into anything they might need or want in their play.



Why? This encourages children’s flexible thinking, problem solving and negotiation skills.  Throw a spanner in the works and add a problem to their play that they will need to solve. For example, the baddies escape from jail, the fairy queen goes on a secret mission and no one can find her, the doctor is now sick.


4. STOP play SHORT

Why? Stopping play encourages children to remember where they were up to, be able to flexibly shift between activities and accept changes in plans.  Change up the amount of time you allow free play for to encourage children to adjust to plans and be able to pick up where they left off later in the day or the next day.


5. Declare a ZONE of PLAY

Why? Inside play and outside play can be different and encourage different sorts of play.  Declare whether it’s inside or outside play and remind the kids of the different resources in the space you are heading to to help spark different ideas in their play.


If you are concerned about your child’s play skills, or would like to know more about play, you can get in contact with one of our Occupational Therapists or our client care team via email on [email protected], phone (07) 3265 4495, or via our website.

Hanna Corfield

Occupational Therapist and Play Therapist