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Five types of social play among children can be observed. These include Solitary, Onlooker, Parallel, Associative, as well as Cooperative Play. Below, we have outlined the distinctions between these types of play and included how universal and inclusive playground designs promote positive social atmospheres where children can thrive.

During Solitary Play, children are usually preoccupied in learning to navigate their new atmosphere. This includes exploration and often time alone to acclimate to the new environment. Solitary Play can occur in any area of the playground.

The next stage of interaction is Onlooker Play. This occurs when the child observes others playing yet does not engage with them just yet.   However, the child may begin to initiate or engage in social interactions that include conversations. Miracle Playsystems helps facilitate Onlooker Play by installing equipment into groups. In this way, children can observe the ways that other children play, and they can engage when they feel ready and comfortable.  

Parallel Plays occurs when two children are playing next to one another. Usually, Parallel Play happens when children are side by side yet are playing by themselves. During this time, they are given the opportunity to watch, listen, and learn from one another. Examples of Parallel Play include climbing, swinging, going down slides, or playing with musical instruments.