Understanding Children’s Play Style

I think we are all aware of how important play is to children, especially young children. So much learning happens when children have the freedom to play. I find it adorable to watch how children interact with other children. In today’s blog, I hope you gain insight into understanding children’s play styles.


There are about 5 stages of play that children participate in starting at birth.

Solitary Style Play

Children ranging from birth to two years, primary play alone and limits their interaction with other children. At times, they might be uninterested or unaware of what others are doing around them.

Spectator Style Play

Children around 2 years old to 2 and a half years old start to notice that other children around them are playing. They will usually spectate their peers and rarely show signs of engaging in play with them. However, they may engage in conversation with the other child about their play.

Parallel Style Play

From about 2 ½ years to 3 children will engage in what is known as parallel play. At this stage, children play almost parallel to another child but usually refrains from playing with them. They may be engaging in the same activity and they may also mimic the other children play behaviors.

You might enjoy reading: Is Sharing Really Caring When it Comes to Toddlers?

Associate Style Play

During the 3rd and 4th year of life, children start to engage more with the children around them, and they are starting to develop friendships. In this style of play, children may be working on similar things but still playing independently from the other child. For example, the pair may be working on building a huge city, one child will be focusing on his or her own building without input from the other child, while the other child is also solely focused on their building without input from the other child.

Cooperative Style Play

Around 4 years and beyond, children start to collaborate more during play. They want to work together to achieve a goal. Using the same example from associate play, the children will now work together to achieve a building for the city that each of them enjoys and offers input on.

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Implications about Play Style

As you can see, children’s play style naturally progress from independent to more social as they grow older.

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Hi I’m Emily


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2 thoughts on “Understanding Children’s Play Style

Add yours

  1. I enjoy your post so much too, you seems to have a lot of knowledge about motherhood and kids, I will love to have your advise on my blog too, thanks


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