We are the Hanover Parent and Child Community Program and we are all about play! Children learn best through play which is why our program is run by Early Childhood Educators (II) who are passionate about creating rich and engaging environments for children and their families to explore and learn in. 

We take a holistic approach and offer activities that encourage and extend children’s development in all areas: physical, cognitive, emotional, and social. Parents and caregivers stay and participate in our program as well. This gives an excellent opportunity for families to connect with each other; many friendships have been formed through meeting at our sites! Parents and caregivers are also able to pull knowledge from our Early Childhood Educators (ECE’s), asking questions about any concerns they may have as well as watching how they (the ECE’s) model guiding children’s behaviour and supporting children while they learn through play. 

What is play? 

There are a lot of answers to this question. There is solitary play (playing independently), parallel play (two individuals playing in the same space with similar materials but not engaging with each other), and cooperative play (two or more people playing together and sharing materials). Each child will go through these stages at their own pace so while it can be helpful to have age ranges for when to expect these to occur, please remember that each child and their experiences are unique and they may go through them in a different way or possibly skip some entirely. 

Check out this link for more information on these and several other stages of play. 


There are schemas. A schema is a way to help us describe patterns of thought and behaviour that help us interpret and learn about the world around us. A few common ones to see in early childhood are:

  • Trajectory – learning how things move 
  • Transporting – moving items from one place to another
  • Enclosing – creating physical boundaries for objects, including themselves
  • Rotational – an interest in spinning and circles
  • Enveloping – an interest in covering and hiding items, including themselves
  • Connecting – when they are joining items together
  • Orientation – when they are learning about seeing things from a different view 

Follow this link to read more about each type of schema as well as some great ideas on how to support your child in the schema they are working on!


For more information on what a schema is (from a psychology perspective) check out this link: https://verywellmind.com/what-is-a-schema-2795873 

There are also cultural differences in what we recognize as play. For some cultures play is a child-only activity that adults need not participate in. For others, it is considered a time that adults should be fully present and engaged in just as much as the child is. Some cultures leave items and toys up to the child to use how they wish, and others value teaching a child how to use each item specifically. There is also every shade of gray in between these dynamics. It is important to remember that one culture’s method of play is not better or worse than another. It is simply different. In our program we value what each family brings from their culture and life experiences and we work together to support each child and caregiver as best as we can. 

As Early Childhood Educators (II), we spend a lot of our time in play! There are a few important notes that we keep in mind when we are engaged in play with children and they are: 

1.  Children make their own decisions 

This could look like a child choosing to use a box as a rocketship or a piece of play food as a telephone. 

2.  Children are intrinsically motivated 

This means that the child is playing something out because they want to, not because they were told to.

3.  Children become immersed in the moment

This can look like a child being fully focused on what they are doing and seem to not hear or notice anything else around them. It’s a great way to build focusing skills which will be needed as they get older!

4.  Play is spontaneous, not scripted

This can look like play changing from a “doctor appointment” to “grocery shopping” to “going to the moon” all within a matter of minutes. We can follow the child’s interest and see where it takes them!

5.  Play is enjoyable

Play needs to be something that is enjoyed. Did you know that even adults play? For us it can look like a hobby: cooking, sewing, golfing, hockey, running, drawing, painting, etc. The important part is that it is enjoyable.

These five points are from https://www.naeyc.org/our-work/families/five-essentials-meaningful-play , feel free to check them out for more information!

Is there an actual definition of play? That is a hard question to answer. This document has some great answers for that: https://www.playscotland.org/wp-content/uploads/What-Is-play-Leaflet.pdf . One that stands out from there is a child saying “it is what I do when everyone else has stopped telling me what to do.”

How would you define play?

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