Stages Of Play Development In Children

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Published: 29th June 2012
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For little children, they see the world through play. Play allows the child to discover and to experiment the world around him. Also, play has various benefits. One, it builds the child imagination. Two, it promotes social skills. Three, it develops the child's learning and development. Lev Semyonovich Vygotsky, a Soviet psychologist and the founder of cultural-historical psychology, believes that play constitutes to the child's learning and development. From his studies, a child develops abstract meaning separate from the objects in the world. At pre-school age, a piece of wood begins to carryout the role of a doll, and a stick becomes a horse.

As kids grow and develop, children go through different stages of play. It is important that when planning activities for kids, behold how play affects their learning and development. In 1932, Mildred Parten developed the stages of play, each stage is described below.

Unoccupied Play
This is the stage when the child is not engaged in playing and just observing. A child can be simply be standing in one spot observing his surroundings.

It is also referred to as independent play. In this stage, the child separates himself from others with no reference to what the other kids are engaged to. Experts believe that kids at this stage are simply not interested in playing with others because they are ego-centric. Ego-centric is when a person is not able to see a point through another person's angle. In return, the child independently plays with his toys. Moreover, children between the ages of one and two are very much interested with the world around him. During play time, parents will notice a lot of banging, noise-making and imitating.

This is the stage when the child is about two and a half year. The child begins to be on a lookout for people around him. A child may show attraction on what other children are playing, however the child doesn't want to join in. A parent will know that the child is in this stage if the child shows interest by pointing or squealing at what others are doing.

This occurs when the child is between two and a half and three years of age. The child can see another child playing and would sit down and play next to him. They are contented to play side by side even without communication. The reason behind this behavior is that children at this age do not possess yet the skills necessary for playing together. The term cooperation is yet to be learned.

Associative Play
This stage occurs between the ages of three and four and this is the first category that children engage in strong social interaction during play. Moreover, the child will begin to see the advantage of playing with another child. An example of this type of play is a group of children participating in a similar activity with no formal organization and group interaction. Each child acts independently.

Cooperative Play
As the child reaches the age of four, he is ready to play cooperatively with other kids. Usually, the play is structured and there is a clear leader in the group. At times, conflict can arise and it can be easily resolved with less disruptive play. Also, in this stage, children interact and work together toward a common goal.

Modern scholars believe that Parten's stages of play has greatly contributed to our understanding of play. It is widely used by parents and child psychology experts to understand children's development. By and large, play therapy is employed in children ages 3 to 11. Play provides an opportunity for children to express their feelings, emotions and experiences through a natural, self-guided process. Encouraging play is very important because it helps children to express. It thus becomes a vital medium for children to recognize and acknowledge themselves and others.

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