Social Elements Of Play
Solitary play is simply that—play that a child engages in alone. The child is totally absorbed in the activity and is not reliant upon the actions or words of others. Examples of solitary play include an infant shaking a rattle in her crib and a preschooler quietly looking at a book by herself. Children of all ages engage in solitary play.
Parallel play differs from solitary play in that the child is observant of others. Children are engaged in parallel play when they play side-by-side, using the same toys and materials, but do not engage in social interaction. A child may notice what his peers are doing, but he will not directly attempt social contact. Parallel play is a common play pattern with children ages two to three.
Social or group play is commonly first observed during the preschool years or around three to five years of age. Group play experiences provide young children with opportunities to learn social rules such as sharing, taking turns, and cooperation. Most activities provided in a nursery school or preschool setting support social or group play in young children. It is during this stage that children begin to develop friendships.