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Babies grow through an established pattern of play as they become toddlers: can you identify the different stages in your children? There are five stages that children grow through as they develop:-
Solitary play: The youngest toddlers play very much on their own ignoring other children playing around them. They can be totally caught up in their world and oblivious to what else is goin on in their immediate surroundings.
Observer: At this stage, children are looking at other children playing around them. This is a fascinating stage because if you watch your child, you can see them looking at and taking in what other children are doing. You can almost hear their thought processes as they analyse what others are doing so that they might learn from the experience of others.
Parallel play: During this stage children play amongst a group of children but without direct interaction. They may share their toys, swapping colouring pens, different trucks or dolls, but they are not playing together. Children at this stage are aware of each other but they are not interacting together.
Associative play: At this stage, children begin to play together but in a loose sense rather than by organising games together. They interact but they don't have an overall game plan. You'll see children chasing around a playground following each other but in a disorganised way. It doesn't spoil the game if children drop out because there's no overall structure to their play.
Cooperative play: The final development stage emerges between 3 - 4 years and sees children playing together, creating organised make-believe games such as doctors and nurses, mommy's and daddy's or teachers. They take on different roles and play out full scenarios.
The ages at which children pass through the different stages varies according to the way that they develop. The pattern can be changed by their surroundings - for example, children with older siblings will be introduced to cooperative play sooner than their cohorts at nursery, and single children will have less opportunity to experience play with other children unless they attend nursery.