The Development in Play Behaviour Has Been Described as a Series of Stages. Present the Evidence for This and Evaluate with Reference to the Development of the Notion of the 'Self'.

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In this essay I am going to discuss the characteristics of play starting from the difficulty of the definition to how it is now commonly described. I will also look at how many theorist believe play develops. Many theorist believe they know what the play types are and at what stage these play type may manifest. I am also going to look at how these theorist manage to talk abot the development of play with at mentioning the development of self and fits in with play. And finally how gender identity affects play and how it is developed. There have been many attempts to define play. Fagan (1974) made a distinction between two different types of definition a functional and the structural approach. The functionalist approach suggests that play has no external goals so if the end goal is to eat seek comfort etc then this behaviour is not play. How ever if there was no goal at all then children would on play the play because the enjoy it, so the functionalist approach has led to a definition of play where there is no obvious benefit. Many theorists would argue that children get benefits from play but it is still unclear what they are. The structural approach tries to describe behaviour that only occurs during play, or behaviours performed playfully these are play behaviours. The main example would be play signals such as the ‘open mouth play face ' for monkey and in humans this is laughter which looks a lot like the ‘open mouth play face ' of monkeys. These signals are seen to be most useful when in rough and tumble play as it signals that there is no aggressive intention in the play. Not all play has such clearly defined signals, some times play is made up of behaviours common to other situations such as running just running may not be play but a change in the way of running like taking bigger steps or stops and starts but the main characteristic is repetition. These two approaches are not opposite to each other as in many places they over lap.
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References: Costabile et al,1991,cross nation comparisionof how children distinguish serious and play fighting, Developmental review, 8,881-7 Fagan, R.M 1974,selective and evolutionary aspects of animal play, American naturalist, 108,850-8. Overton, W.F and Jackson J.P, 1973, The pre-presentation of imagined objects in action sequence: a developmental study, Child development , 44,309-14 Pellegrini, A.D and Smith P.K, 1998, physical activity play: the native and function of a neglected aspect of play, Child development, 69,577-98 Piaget, J. 1951,play, Dreams and imitation in childhood, London, Rouledge and Kegan Paul Smilasky, S.1968, The effect of sociodramatic play on disadvantaged preschool children, New York, Wiley Smith,P.K, Cowie,H. and Blades,M.1988, understanding childeren 's development, London, Blackwell

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