Although all children develop at different rates, there are six general key stages of play development.
Unoccupied play (birth-3 months)
Babies are learning about their body and discovering how it moves – there’s lots of wiggling and testing to see what works, and what doesn’t!
Solitary play (birth-2 years)
At this stage, a child puts all concentration into what they’re playing with and there’s little interest in playing with others just yet.
Spectator play (2 years)
Now a child becomes much more interested in watching other kids play, although prefers to be on the periphery rather than engage.
Parallel play (2+ years)
A child becomes increasingly interested in other children and what they’re doing – edging closer to play alongside them (still not fully engaging in joint play).
Associate play (3-4 years)
At this age a child starts interacting much more with others, however still not fully! They might be doing something related to children around them, such as playing in a playground, but might not actually be interacting with the others.
Cooperative play (4+ years)
Now children become much more immersed in collaborative play, making up games together and acting out stories. Friendships take on a new lease of life!
As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, kids interact at their own pace and these are indicative stages of play development.
Did you enjoy this article? Visit our blog for more insights, recipes and activity ideas.