Social play: Language and Play


Stages of play

Play is about having fun, whether it be an organised activity or unstructured. But play is much more than having fun, its a way that they make sense of the world, themselves and others. As they grow and develop they will gradually move through the different stages of play. The stages of play are outlined below:

 Solitary Play:

Early play tends to be solitary, where the child is happy to be on their own and direct their own play without needing to be concerned about others. You may find at this stage your child might not notice or be interested in the other children playing around them because they are fully engrossed with their own play and discovery.

Parallel Play

At this stage children play side by side without interaction. They might mimic the others child's play but they are still separate. They may watch other children and make some attempts to make contact. Towards the end of this stage, they may begin to cooperate with other children, e.g. share toys.

Co-operative Play:

This is the stage where children are beginning to be able to interact with each other. They are able to play together, share toys and take turns in games.  The increasingly co-operative nature of the play provides opportunities to practice using language for different purposes including arguing, questioning, explaining and directing what others do.

There is a clear relationship between language and play. To learn more about the relationship and how you can support this process of learning click the link on the sidebar.

Useful Resource

Talking Point have created a checklist which describes the typical stages of speech and language development, including social skills and play. Click here to learn more.

Top Tip

It is important that adults play with their children at every stage of play. This will help with their development, awareness and their social skills. Talking through what they are doing and making connections help the child to develop new words. Children with communication difficulties may find more advanced social play difficult. Adults may need to encourage children to develop the whole area of social play as it is crucial to their development in society. It is important to support these children through the different levels of social play development and only move through these stages when the child is ready.
A resource to demonstrate the relationship between play and language.
Learn More

Age Groups

Find more games, resources, tips and links for your child's age group here.

Games & Resources

Take a look at more of our resources and games to help your child learn through play.


Information on how dummies can affect speech and language development...
Find Out More

Art in the outside environment

Out and About Art Nature has the very best materials...
Find Out More

Teddy is going to school

Help your child with the transition to school using play...
Find Out More

Tips & Links

Discover our bite-sized tips to help your child's development and links to useful websites here.

Read and Count with me by the sea

For the Essex Year of Numbers we have something exciting...
Find Out More

Childcare funding

What is Funded Early Education Entitlement (FEEE)? All children are...
Find Out More

Frequently Asked Questions

Are you looking for advice about your child's learning and development? We answer your frequently asked questions here.

Get in touch

For further support or advice, please feel free to contact us on the email address below.
Email Us

A Mackman Group collaboration - market research by Mackman Research | website design by Mackman

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram