Stages of Play

August 14, 2018

At SPLICE we know that play is an important part of a child’s day. Play and development go hand in hand, it is where they learn to expand their language skills and bring their imaginations to life.


Children grow and develop at different rates and while their pathways through childhood are different, most children pass through a set of predictable milestones along the way and their play skills generally move through four specific stages of play:  

Solitary play, Parallel play, Symbolic play, and Cooperative play.




Solitary play (Playing alone)



The first stage of play is solitary play, this typically lasts from just a few months old until around 18 months old.

During this stage, children tend to play alone or possibly with adults, but have little interestin playing with children of the same age.



Children of this age enjoy toys that meet their sensory needs such as toys that make a noise, light up, spin round and are safe to put in their mouths.



Parallel Play  (Playing Side-by-Side)

The next stage of play is parallel play, during which children are able to play alongside each other but show minimal ability to appropriately interact with one another although basic play

skills may start to develop. And children may  start to understand that simple play, such as passing a ball or car back and forth, can be enjoyed by more than one person.


Children of this age start to enjoy toys such as shape sorters, blocks, wooden puzzles, cars, sand and water play.



Symbolic Play  (Pretend Play)

Symbolic play involves the use of objects to represent real-life activities, such as pretending that a caring for a teddy bear by giving it imaginary water and food or pretending to be a super hero.


Toys that are appropriate for this stage include baby dolls, stuffed animals, and dress-up clothes.



Cooperative Play (Playing Together)



Cooperative Play is the most advanced stage of play, this is when children start to develop complex storylines to guide their play.  At this stage, play ideas may include playing house,

playing Mummy and Daddy with baby dolls or cooking dinner in a play kitchen.

Children at this stage are also able to  to play basic games such

as matching games, pass the parcel and start to learn the rules of sharing and turn-taking.

Children who are at this stage of play enjoy toys such as toy kitchen, play food, simple board games, dolls, toy garage, cars, action figures 




These stages are general guidelines for what to expect of your child’s play skills, but remember every child is different!


If you have any concerns about your child please speak to a member of staff.   






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