Mildred Parten's Stages of Play Theory

Mildred Parten's Stages of Play Theory

Just how important is the role that playing has in child development? 

Playing is about much more than fun for children. It plays a vital role in child development. They learn physical skills through playing such as fine motor skills and certain types of play, such as role playing is vital for their social-emotional development.

Over the last century there have been numerous studies into child development but one study that we are inspired by at GiddyGeese is Mildred Parten's study into the stages of play.

Mildred Parten lived in the early 1900's and was an American sociologist. She was one of the first academics to undertake extensive studies in child development. 

For her dissertation she studied children between the ages of 2 and 5 playing and concluded that there are six stages of play relating to child development.

These stages start from birth when babies play unoccupied. This may just look like wiggling and shuffling but the baby is discovering how their body moves.

At around age 2 children go through a further two stages of development which involves playing alone and then observing others playing.

Between the ages of 2 to 4 children go through three further stages. At first they like to play along side one another, slowly starting to interact but mainly focusing on individual goals. It isn't until around age four that children start to play together, with common goals and we start to see team work skills forming.

At GiddyGeese, when sourcing toys, we have Parten's stages in the back of our minds.
We ask ourselves questions like will this toy be best for individual or joint play? Does the toy compliment the developmental stage for the targeted age? Will the toy bring an opportunity to develop physical skills or will it provide the opportunity to develop an emotional or social skill?

Above all, we want our toys to spark imagination and intrigue and make playing fun.

In the early years, whilst there is fun and engagement in an activity there is always an opportunity for learning.


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