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    • What are the stages of play?

      • Unoccupied play. The first stage of play happens in early infancy, generally between birth and three months. ...
      • Solitary play. Children between infancy and toddlerhood generally prefer playing alone. ...
      • Onlooker play. Around two years old, children start to watch other children play. ...
      • Parallel play. ...
      • Associative play. ...
      • Cooperative play. ...
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    When do children go through the 6 stages of play?

    What are the different types of play for children?

    Why is grouping stages of play important?

    What are the stages of child development?

  2. The 6 Stages of How Kids Learn to Play | Child Development › kids-learn-play-6-stages-play

    All of the stages of play involve exploring, being creative, and having fun. This list explains how children’s play changes by age as they grow and develop social skills. Unoccupied Play (Birth-3 Months) At this stage baby is just making a lot of movements with their arms, legs, hands, feet, etc.

  3. Parten’s 6 Stages of Play in Childhood, Explained! (2021) › stages-of-play
    • Explanation of The 6 Stages of Play
    • Strengths and Criticisms of Parten’s Theory
    • Who Was Mildred Parten?
    • Final Thoughts
    • References and Further Reading

    1. Unoccupied Play

    Unoccupied play can be observed from the earliest months in life. It is defined as sensory activities that lack focus or narrative. Key characteristics include: 1. Lack of social interaction. 2. Lack of sustained focus. 3. No clear story lines during play. 4. Language use is non-existent or very limited. Examples of unoccupied play include: 1. A child picking up, shaking, then discarding objects in their vicinity. 2. A child hitting and giggling at a play mobile in a cot. These forms of play...

    2. Solitary Play

    (3 months – 2 ½ years) Solitary play follows on from unoccupied play. It is play that involves a child playing alone and with little interest in toys outside of their immediate vicinity. It is more focused and sustained than unoccupied play. During this stage, children will still have little interest in adults or other children during their play. Key characteristics include: 1. Increased focus and sustained attention on toys. 2. Emerging play narratives, such as use of symbolic play (using ob...

    3. Onlooker Play

    (2 ½ years – 3 ½ years) Onlooker play is the first sign of children showing interest in the play behaviors of other children. During this stage, children will observe other children’s play without getting involved themselves. They will often sit within earshot so they can hear other children’s play conversations. Key characteristics include: 1. Children showing interest in other children’s play. 2. Withholding from play due to fear, disinterest, or hesitation. Examples of onlooker play includ...


    1. This taxonomy of types of play helps early childhood educators diversify play experiences. 2. Children’s development can be assessed against the taxonomy. 3. It recognizes that multiple different forms of play are beneficial for development. 4. It acknowledges the importance of social interaction during play to promote child development.


    1. The guidelines for age ranges for observing changes in play stages are very loose and inaccurate. 2. There is no mention of important developments in play-based learning such as imaginative play, risky play and symbolic play. 3. It risks panicking parents who think their child should be engaging in one form of play or another. Read Also: The Pros and Cons of Play Based Learning

    Mildred Parten was born in 1902 in Minneapolis. She completed her doctoral dissertation on children’s play in the University of Minnesota in 1929. Within the dissertation, she proposed all 6 stages of play based on her observations of children. Her dissertation was titled: An Analysis of Social Participation, Leadership, and other Factors in Preschool Play Groups. Her stages of play were again published in 1932 in the Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology. The article was titled: Social Participation among Preschool Children. Parten subsequently did her post-doctorate at the London School of Economics then headed to the Yale Institute of Human Relations (1930 – 1936). Later, she moved on to a role as director of statistics for a consumer purchases study for the Bureau of Labor Statistics (1936 – 1939). She spent the final years of her illustrious career at the University as Rochester as a survey consultant and research associate (1949-1956). She died in 1970 from a heart conditi...

    The play stages, while mastered in a linear fashion (one after the other), can be returned to once mastered. In other words, even though a child has mastered cooperative play, you may still observe them engaging in parallel play. While this play taxonomy can be useful for educators and parents, remember that different children have different play preferences. In other words, use it to learn about different forms of play rather than to see whether or not your child is ‘normal’.

    All references are in APA style. Bernard, J. (1970). Mildred Parten Newhall 1902–1970. American Sociologist, 5(4): 383. doi: Gordon Biddle, K., Garcia Nevares, A., Roundtree Henderson, W., & Valero-Kerrick, A. (2014). Early childhood education: Becoming a professional. Los Angeles: SAGE. (Go to Chapter 10. Here’s a free link.) Parten, M. (1929). An analysis of social participation, leadership, and other factors in preschool play groups. Retrieved from: Parten, M. (1932). Social participation among preschool children. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 27(3): 243–269. doi: 10.1037/h0074524. Parten, M. (1933). Leadership among preschool children. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 27(4): 430–440. doi: 10.1037/h0073032. Parten, M. (1933). Social play among preschool children. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 28(2): 136–147. doi: 10.1037/h0073939. Parten, M. & Newhall, S. (1943). Soci...

  4. Stages of play in early childhood development › the-stages-of-play-for

    Jan 05, 2012 · This stage of play often runs concurrently with Solitary play. This is also commonly known as spectator play. Stage 4: Parallel play (2½ -3 years): Children play side by side with similar toys, but there is a lack of group involvement. They play independently but will play next to other children and they may use their toys.

  5. The power of play – Part 1: Stages of play - MSU Extension › news › the_power_of_play_part_1

    Oct 06, 2015 · This type of play builds the foundation for the other five stages of play. Unoccupied play looks like babies or young children exploring materials around them without any sort of organization. This stage allows children to practice manipulating materials, mastering their self-control and learning about how the world works. Solitary play.

  6. Our Guide to the 6 Different Stages of Play - Discount ... › blog › our-guide-to

    Jan 09, 2020 · Play is one of the best ways to learn anything, and with the help of recess and playgrounds, children gain an understanding of important social and developmental skills. Today, we’ll discuss social play in particular—take a look at our guide to the different stages of play to understand how this play develops social skills as the children grow!

  7. Stages of play - › stages-of-play
    • Unoccupied. This is when a baby moves for no reason, such as kicking their legs. This is the first sign of play. You can encourage unoccupied play by letting your child move around.
    • Playing alone. When children play alone, they will explore the world around them. They do this by touching and tasting things. They will also enjoy hearing their own voice.
    • Onlooker. This is when a child watches other children play, and doesn’t join in. This is the first step in learning to play with others. Onlooker play is a normal and a healthy part of development.
    • Parallel. Parallel play is when children play next to each other, but don’t interact. This is a normal part of the learning to play process. This usually happens between 2 and 3 years old.
  8. 6 Stages of Play in Kids (and Play Ideas for Each Stage ... › blog › the-6-stages-of-play

    The Stages of Play Development. As children develop and grow, they move through different stages of social play which promotes their speech and language development and other important skills. Please know that these stages are general guidelines and that your child may not reach all of the stages at the ages listed. That’s alright!

  9. Different Stages of Play (Key) - TX CTE › Different-Stages-of-Play-Key

    Different Stages of Play (Key) Complete chart below by defining the stages of play and then determine the age at which each type of play occurs. You will write ways parents/caregivers can help a child with physical, cognitive, social or emotional development at each stage of play. Write a summary sentence below.

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