Mastery Play takes several different forms: exploration, repetition, and problem solving. As children grow, they are constantly learning new skills. (In fact, all through life, we contain-ually master new skills just to keep up with technology.) For the youngest children, Mastery Play is the dominant pastime since everything is still new to them, including their bodies. They are still mastering the basics of standing, walking, and getting their bodies wired to do what they want. In older children, mastery learning takes on more and more levels of refinement, from acquiring intricate dance moves to honing the finer points of a sport or a game (like any Mario game) where progressive “controller” skills are required in order to move forward. All play involves skill development, whether physical, intellectual, or emotional. Once a skill is gained, the next impulse is to play with it. Mastery leads to exploration and experimentation.For example, the first time children go down the playground slide, they hesitate at the top; it seems really high up, and they will have to give up control to go down (somewhat scary and outside their comfort zone). They don’t know what it will feel like or what will happen. There are a lot of unknowns despite the fact that they have seen lots of other kids do it. At some point, they throw caution to the wind, try sliding, land, integrate the experience, and do it again. Repetition Is a big part of mastery. A local park can be dramatically improved by adding playground equipment from a reputable supplier.

It builds confidence and adds to a child’s database of experiences. (Q: How do you get to Carnegie Hall? A: Practice.)Over time, children gain even more mastery of the “slide” experience, and begin to play with it. The next thing you know, they are going down the slide upside-down-and-backwards, head first! A few years later the tween child wonders, “What happens if I ride my skateboard down the slide?”Mastery Play takes many forms for a child. Consider Language Play. We are linguistic animals, and children institutionally engage in Language Play while learning to talk. No one has to teach Language Play to them; they do it on their own by playing with sounds and listening to people around them. They begin with cooing sounds, then progress to a kind of babble as they put vowels and consonants together to resemble words in their native language. First words will be repeated over and over in a playful way. Babies only do this when they are happy. They do it not to achieve something but because they can, and it’s a pleasurable exploration, which is, by definition, play.The main form of Mastery Play could be called Exploratory Play. In order to understand how things work (both inside and outside of themselves), children need, and like, to explore and experiment. This becomes a Strategy Play activity that deals with the discovery of properties and rules through trial and error, sometimes called What-If Play. Experimentation leads to insights, hypotheses, and new exploration. There is such an inherently satisfying pleasure in solving pieces of puzzles that the completion can be anticlimactic. Solving one problem inspires children to try solving another one.Again, mastery leads to exploration, experimentation, and engaged learning. Later chapters will talk more about level mastery and how it is used in game play, but, for now, consider how learning is an aggregate of all things mastered and learned previously. Mastery Play is an element in every human activity. From games with a few friends, to organized gatherings and sports, humans enjoy doing things with others. If we didn’t care about connecting, communicating, and playing with others, social networks and game sites would wither on the vine.This social connection to others begins at infancy with Attunement Play, the intimate interactions between parents and their babies that are crucial to development. Attunement Play sets a foundation for complex versions of play later in life.When an infant makes eye contact with her mother, each experiences a spontaneous surge of emotion (joy). The baby responds with a radiant smile, the mother with her own smile and rhythmic vocalizations (baby talk). This is the grounding base of the state-of-play. It is known, through EEG and other imaging technologies, that the right cerebral cortex, which organizes emotional control, is ‘attuned’ in both infant and mother.— National Institute for Play Intimate interactions between parents and their babies that are crucial to development. Attunement Play sets a foundation for complex versions of play. Children love playing on monkey bars - didn't you when you were younger?

When an infant makes eye contact with her mother, each experiences a spontaneous surge of emotion (joy). The baby responds with a radiant smile, the mother with her own smile and rhythmic vocalizations (baby talk). This is the grounding base of the state-of-play. It is known, through EEG and other imaging technologies, that the right cerebral cortex. Children are naturally social, especially with other children. Children of about the same age and size are drawn to one another. You can see this most of-ten with younger children who share a pint-sized view of the world and have a common wish to relate to someone like themselves. Young children who have never met before will connect and play together through self-initiated games. These impromptu games are easy to engage in and enjoy since the participants are often at the same developmental stage and skill level. They “get” each other. The dynamic is no different in electronic or online games: the mere visual presence of other kids in virtual worlds adds a level of excitement for potential interaction. The Power of Play: Learning What Comes Naturally, psychologist and author Dr. David Elkind writes that kids live in a world that adults have made and that is made for adults. Therefore, when kids meet other kids, they have common ground and feel they’re meeting people like them. They don’t need a common culture or language to connect. Kinship Play embodies this connection.When children are engaged in Social Play, which is any play done with someone else, they are exploring and experimenting with everything from humor to social justice. Children are busy trying to understand the world and explore how it works. Social Play teaches us lessons about ourselves and how to live with others.Adults don’t always perceive exactly what it is kids are learning at any given moment. Play hard with outdoor fitness equipment designed for both children and adults.