Making sense of play: Exploring Connecting and Disconnecting patterns of play in children
You can probably guess how to recognise Connecting and Disconnecting fascinations in your child’s play just by the name. If your little one has an urge to glue different papers or materials together, tie toys, objects or people up with string, or piece puzzles together, it’s likely they’re exploring a Connecting pattern of play.
The Connecting pattern of play may also lend itself to a similar fascination — Disconnecting, in which your child will have an urge to connect something together, only to tear it apart or knock it down after. This behaviour can seem frustrating at first for adults, but be patient! Your child is simply learning about how the world works around them through this fascination.
What kind of play ideas are good for those with an interest in Connecting and/or Disconnecting?
Children with these interests love to put together and take apart their toys, structures and objects. Toy sets such as Lego Duplo, Mobilo, and jigsaw puzzles are excellent for supporting the cognitive growth of children interested in Connecting/Disconnecting. They may also enjoy playing with trains, putting the tracks together and/or taking them apart, gluing things together and then tearing them apart, using lots and lots of sticky tape, or tying objects, toys and people together with string — only to untie them later.
Here are a few constructive ideas to help you stimulate your child’s growth through supporting their pattern of play:
- During construction projects, provide them with things that are okay to cut up, as well as lots of sticky tape and child-friendly scissors
- Make some dough and play alongside them; rolling, cutting and joining it the way that they do
- Use different colour construction paper and glue or tape to make paper chains together
- Make jewellery by connecting pieces of paper towel tubes together with string
- When playing at the beach, use pipes, buckets and funnels in sand and water to make connections
When talking to your little one, use words that link with their Connecting or Disconnecting fascination, like link, combine, hook up, join, separate, divide, apart or undo to help encourage their early language, literacy and vocabulary.
Something to note: Disconnecting urges in children often seem disruptive to adults, especially if it involves scattering, or tearing, snapping or cutting up things that shouldn’t be treated that way. Also, children who are exploring Connecting fascinations may not play well with those who have Disconnecting urges.
Now that you know a little more about how your child learns through play, you can support their growth. If you’d like to learn more about different patterns of play (your child may be learning through more than just one), check them out below and discover loads of fun ways to support your child’s learning.
Have fun playing and learning together!