Social stages of play for children 0-6+ years

27 July, 2020
Any activity that your child does (whether organised or unstructured) that they find fun is considered play. Play is much more than just having fun. While playing, your child learns and develops important skills they will continue to use throughout their lifetime. There are 6 stages of play during early childhood – all of which are important for all areas of development.

Unoccupied play – 0-3 months


Solitary play – 0-2 years

Onlooker play – 2 years


Parallel play – 2-3 years


Associate play – 2-3 years


Cooperative/social play – 4-6 years

Play is important because:

Play is so important that the United Nation Convention on the rights of the child states in article 31 that children have the right “to engage in play and recreational activities.”

If your child is having difficulty learning to play with others you can:


Some games to play at home:


If your child is struggling with play by themselves or with others when older, speak to your GP, community nurse, occupational therapist, or speech pathologist.

Stay safe, happy, and well,


By Debbie Evans

Executive Director

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