Heuristic play is aimed at children 6 months to 3 years and provides children the opportunity to explore a variety of open ended everyday objects without adult intervention, therefore they discover things for themselves. The role of the adult is to be close by to observe, offer support and resolve any conflict if necessary. They do not direct the play in any way. Heuristic play supports learning and development by;
- Allowing exploration to be open ended, compared with manufactured toys which usually have one function.
- Concepts such as space are developed through heuristic play, as well as manipulative skills and concentration span.
- There is no right or wrong in children’s explorations, therefore failure does not occur and children’s confidence is developed.
- Due to the amount of objects on offer conflict should rarely occur and sharing is not required. Sharing is an unrealistic expectation at this age.
- However co-operative play does develop through heuristic play.
- Heuristic play can appear repetitive, however it is through these repetitions that new understandings and concepts develop, extending their thinking skills.