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Parallel play is a concept from developmental psychology. It means children playing side by side without interaction. It is commonly seen among children of ages 2 or 3. Children younger than that tend to play by themselves (solitary play). Older children interact with each other more (group play).
In education, parallel play also describes activities where students are divided into pairs or small groups and work on the same activity simultaneously. This gives all students equal opportunity for active involvement and reduces the exposure. (Since all students are playing, none are watching.)