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Tips for six year olds

Through early childhood, you've probably seen your child participate in three types of play: self-centered play, object play and social play. At six, all three remain but the trend has shifted to social play.

While school doesn't provide the same opportunities for role-taking play that they enjoyed in nursery, it is still important to six year olds. They'll take on the roles of teacher and pupils, parent and children, boyfriend and girlfriend, cops and robbers, and so on. Role-taking play furthers their development of self-other perspective, builds empathy and helps them feel a sense of social power and competence. Let them enjoy this type of play. By the end of the year, role-taking play wanes and rule-bound play begins.

You'll also notice that, at six, play with objects such as toys becomes more social. Dolls will be used in stories; simple board games are enjoyed with a group; house and school plays needs props. The difference now is that two or more children will play together with the toys, creating their own games and using reciprocity to define the use of toys.

If your child still enjoys 'solitary object play' however, don't worry. They may be early readers or enjoy building collections. In a sense, this type of activity takes them back to an earlier time and is comforting and less stressful. Six year olds often need this private play time to relieve the tension of social development so try to provide opportunities for them to have time with toys and objects that reflect their personal interests.

Here are some of my hints and tips on issues that may be of interest to parents of six year olds. I hope you find them useful.