Don’t count play time as downtime, your child is developing the necessary skills needed to become a functional member in the community. Play is a self-motivating activity that typically results in pleasure and enjoyment. The development of skills utilized in play begin in early infancy and will continue to develop throughout a child’s life. Play is a voluntary act grouped into stages based on the child’s ability to sequence, problem solve, take risks and generalize these skills to different activities and stages in their life. 

The 6 Important Stages of Play

  • Unoccupied play: birth-3 months. Your baby begins to discover they can move their arms, legs, hands, feet.
  • Solitary play: birth-2 years old. Your child plays on their own. Interest in playing with other children is emerging.
  • Spectator or Onlooker play: 2 years old. Your child will begin to observe and watch other children play, but will not engage with them.
  • Parallel play: 2+ years old. Your child plays side-by-side with another child, without any direct interaction.
  • Associative play: 3-4 years old. Your child will start to interact with other children who are playing with similar toys.
  • Cooperative play: 4+ years old. Your child begins to share ideas with other children and follow established rules (i.e. waiting their turn). This is when your child will begin to show an interest in other other children and the activity.