At what point will my toddler actually play together with other kids?
Play for young children assumes many different forms. There are five different types of play:
Onlooker behavior: Playing passively by watching or conversing with other children engaged in play activities.
Solitary independent: Playing by oneself.
Parallel: Playing, even in the middle of a group, while remaining engrossed in one's own activity. Children playing parallel to each other sometimes use each other's toys, but always maintain their independence.
Associative: Sharing materials and talking to each other, without coordinating play objectives or interests.
Cooperative: Organizing players into roles with specific goals in mind. For example, children playing cooperatively might assign each other the roles of doctor, nurse and patient while playing hospital.
Depending on the circumstances, children may engage in any of the different types of play. Research with 2-year olds through 5-year olds has revealed that children under the age of 3 typically participate in solitary independent and/or parallel play, and begin participating in more social play as they get older.