Roadmap: Heuristic play
Alexis Ralphs Jan 01 • 7 min read
As your toddler becomes more mobile and curious, they will most likely begin to engage in heuristic play. This is play as discovery: learning that one thing fits inside another or that a ball dropped into a tube appears again at the other end. They will often repeat the action many times in order to understand the concept, which is when you might find every car in the box being thrown down the stairs with glee. Offer a range of materials and objects that work well in this context, such as balls, cotton reels, boxes, corks, wooden spoons, pots that can be nested, wooden rings, strips of fabric, mirrors and any other loose parts. There is no right or wrong with heuristic play, only discovery. Children have many schemas, mental models of how the world works which they explore through play. You may notice your child likes to line up their toys or wrap their dolls up in blankets - both types of schemas. Through experimentation they test those models and adjust them accordingly if new information comes to light. Sand and water play are both excellent ways to support heuristic play as they both offer endless possibilities for examination and manipulation.