1. Solitary play
Under 2 years
Under the age of two years, babies are exploring the new world around them. They spend most of their playtime making use of all of their senses, touching everything around them, tasting anything they can get their hands on and babbling to hear their own voice. They bang, learning repetition and trial and error. This is all part of starting to learn motor skills, creating functioning, active babies.
2. Parallel play
2 years old
The next stage of play is for 2 and 3 year-olds. Parallel play is when socializing first begins. Babies at this stage play next to each other, but do not interact. Even though they do not acknowledge each other, they do recognize that other babies are there. This is the first stage in stepping outside of one’s self and noticing others.
3. Imitative play
2-3 years old
Shortly after parallel play, children start to imitate those around them. They’ve probably already been imitating their parents and adults in their lives, but at the stage of imitative play, they’re starting to embrace the actions of those their age. This is the first outward sign of acknowledging others.
4. Associative play
3-4.5 years old
While maintaining their independent interests, children play together. They may acknowledge what the other is doing and discuss what they are doing with each other, but they are not yet working toward a common goal. They are not yet playing together.
5. Cooperative play
4-6 years old
Finally, during cooperative play, children start to work toward a common goal. They are working together, or against each other, but most definitely interacting. This is the vital stage where we start to see future socializing skills forming.