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Childhood play development shows distinctive patterns as children grow physically and mature emotionally and socially.

Models of play developmentEdit

Parten's stages of playEdit

Main article: Parten's stages of play

This was a theory developed by Mildred Parten in 1932.[1] Parten observed American preschool age (ages 2 to 5) children at free play (defined as anything unrelated to survival, production or profit).

According to Parten, as children became older, improving their communication skills, and as opportunities for peer interaction become more common, the nonsocial (solitary and parallel) types of play become less common, and the social (associative and cooperative) types of play become more common.[1][2]

Modern scholars agree that Parten's theory has contributed substantially to our understanding of play, and while alternative classification schemes have been proposed, Parten's stages of play are still widely used.[1] However, there is disagreement on whether there is indeed a sequence of play stages that children go through – for example, whether toddlers are really unable to play cooperatively, and whether solitary play in older children is less common or a sign of immaturity.[1] Alternative explanations suggest that types of play may be influenced by other circumstances (such as how well the children know one another).[1]

See alsoEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Fergus P. Hughes, Children, Play, and Development, SAGE, 2009, ISBN 1-4129-6769-4. Google Print, p.100-103
  2. includeonly>Tomlin, Carolyn Ross. "Play: A Historical Review". Retrieved on June 29, 2012.
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