Session note Session notes

Session notes for Play Stages: 3 to 5 years


Play and progress

At this age tamariki have moved from babyhood into childhood. They continue to enjoy playing, especially with whānau and friends that they know and who know them.

Tamariki are likely to enjoy physical activity, and although they may be more confident and energetic, they can still be cautious about trying new things. Whānau support and encouragement remains key to their continued progress.

Pātai atu ki te whānau:

  • What have you been noticing recently about your child’s:
    • play
    • physical activity
    • trying of new things?

When whānau play together with their tamariki it can be the start to achieving some other life goals they might have for them. Skills like learning to share, taking turns, following simple rules and communicating can all develop through games.

Help whānau to understand that for their tamaiti at this stage, these skills are, however, still a work in progress!

Fun, friends and feelings

Tamariki begin to play with other tamariki more at this age. They’re beginning to understand that others have feelings and they may get upset if someone else is upset — this is the beginning of empathy.

This is also an age when tamariki develop a sense of humour, and enjoy jokes and tricks.

In Whakatipu booklet Te Māhuri 1, page 5, whānau talk about their tamaiti and his active imagination — so active that at times he can scare himself!

Pātai atu ki te whānau:

  • What have you noticed about your tamaiti:
    • using their imagination
    • using their social skills
    • using their turn-taking skills
    • playing with others
    • and their ability to share some things sometimes?

‘Te hinengaro mīharo’ on page 8 helps to explain how a child’s brain is growing and changing, and how this can affect their behaviour.

‘Ngā mahi a whānau’ on page 10 says, ‘Look at all the learning for tamariki when whānau join in the fun’. Pages 10–17 show tamariki playing and learning in different places and doing lots of different things.

When tamariki are part of whānau activities, they’re surrounded by all sorts of rich playing and learning opportunities. When whānau have been playing, singing, listening and laughing together with their kids, they’re not only helping their development, but sharing the richness of their family’s unique language and culture.

Pātai atu ki te whānau:

  • What recent experiences have you enjoyed together with your tamariki?
  • What do you think they might have learned through it?

Free play

This term describes how children will independently explore and learn without always needing a formal structure to their play. It could also highlight that enjoying and learning through play doesn’t need money or a lot of resources.

What it does need is:

  • an experience: a place, people and/or something to explore
  • whānau, grown ups and other tamariki to:
    • talk — to ask open-ended questions and share their thoughts and ideas
    • have fun with
    • listen to
    • guide and keep safe
    • encourage and support
    • sing and dance and share stories with.

Relationship building

Play is more than games and activities. More than anything, it’s about relationships. Playfully participating in everyday things with trusted people can be a way of building, rebuilding and sometimes repairing relationships with tamariki.

See SKIP’s Six principlesOpens in new window, Trauma informed practice and how playing together can help

See also these Parenting Resource session notes:

  • Ngā mahi a whānau
  • What else we learn
  • Out and about — Te haerenga

How does this relate to the SKIP resources?

Baby wall frieze - Tukuna ahau kia mahi, kia mōhio ai ahau me pēhea te ako.  Let me do things over and over again … it helps me learn — just like big people, I need to practise new thingsOpens in new window

Six things children need - Te ārahi me te māramatanga.  Guidance and understanding — giving our tamaiti opportunities to practise playing and learning to get along with others.  Practice makes progress!Opens in new window

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