types of play

Ryan Sparkman

What are the Types of Play?

Solitary Play- This is the first stage of play. Babies and toddlers (birth to around two) are in this stage. They love to be with family members and also enjoy time by themselves. They are very busy exploring and discovering their new world. These very young children tend to play alone regardless of whether other children are in the same room. During this time the child is learning how to explore their surroundings.

Parallel Play- The second stage of play begins around the age of two. Children play next to each other simply because they are in the same area but they are engaged in their own activities. They play side-by-side, watch and listen to each other. At this age they are interested in the same toys and both see the toys as belonging to them. During this time the child is learning how to be around others outside of their family.

Associative Play- At this third stage most children are still playing independently but often do the same thing as other children. For example, if one child puts on a dress-up outfit, another child will put one on also. The children will begin to interact through talking, borrowing and taking turns with toys, but each child acts alone. During this time the child is learning how to fit in with their friends and peers.

Cooperative Play- This stage becomes quite apparent in the later preschool years, (during the 4th and 5th years), when children have acquired the skills to interact together for the purpose of play. Speaking and listening skills are more developed so children can communicate with each other. Children can share ideas and tell each other what to do. Communication about play is the critical skill of cooperative play. During this time the child is learning how to interact independently.

Examples of Each Type of Play

Solitary Play- A baby wondering around by themselves, taking in their surroundings.

Parallel Play- Children playing together, but in their own separate worlds.

Associative Play- Children copy each other's actions. One may wonder off, so the other will follow.

Cooperative Play- Children fully play together, socially and emotionally.

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