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Foundation: Interactions with Peers

California Infant/Toddler Learning & Development Foundations.
Important Notice: Programs Moved to CDSS

While the California Department of Education continues to operate the California State Preschool Program, the Early Childhood Development Act of 2020 (Senate Bill (SV) 98, Chapter 24, Statutes of 2020) authorized the transfer of many childcare programs from the California Department of Education to the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) effective July 1, 2021. The content on this page may include programs that have moved to CDSS. For additional assistance you can either visit the CDSS Child Care Transition web page External link opens in new window or tab. or call 1-833-559-2420 for more information.

The developing ability to respond to and engage with other children
8 months 18 months 36 months

At around eight months of age, children show interest in familiar and unfamiliar peers. Children may stare at another child, explore another child’s face and body, and respond to siblings and older peers. (8mos.; Meisels and others 2003)

At around 18 months of age, children engage in simple back-and-forth interactions with peers for short periods of time. (Meisels and others 2003, 35)

At around 36 months of age, children engage in simple cooperative play with peers. (36mos.; Meisels and others 2003 70)

For example, the child may:

  • Watch other children with interest. (8 mos.; Meisels and others 2003)
  • Touch the eyes or hair of a peer. (8 mos.; Meisels and others 2003)
  • Attend to a crying peer with a serious expression. (7 mos.; American Academy of Pediatrics 2004, 212)
  • Laugh when an older sibling or peer makes a funny face. (8mos.; Meisels and others 2003)

 

 

For example, the child may:

  • Hit another child who takes a toy. (18 mos.; Meisels and others 2003, 35)
  • Offer a book to another child, perhaps with encouragement from the infant care teacher. (18mos.; Meisels and others 2003, 35)
  • Tickle another child, get tickled back, and tickle him again. (18mos.; Meisels and others 2003, 35)
  • Engage in reciprocal play, such as run-and-chase or offer-and-receive. (12–13 mos.; Howes 1988, v; 10–12 mos.; Ross and Goldman 1977)
  • Play ball with a peer by rolling the ball back and forth to each other. (12–15 mos.; Parks 2004; 9–16 mos.; Frankenburg and others 1990)

For example, the child may:

  • Communicate with peers while digging in the sandbox together. (29–36 mos.; Hart and Risley 1999, 124)
  • Act out different roles with peers, sometimes switching in and out of her role. (By 36mos.; Segal 2004, 44)
  • Build a tall tower with one or two other children. (36 mos.; Meisels and others 2003, 70)
  • Hand a peer a block or piece of railroad track when building.

Behaviors leading up to the foundation (4 to 7 months)

During this period, the child may:

  • Notice other infants and children while sitting on a parent’s or infant care teacher’s lap.

  • Cry when hearing another baby cry. (4 mos.; Meisels and others 2003, 10)

Behaviors leading up to the foundation (9 to 17 months)

During this period, the child may:

  • Engage in solitary play. (toddler; Segal 2004, 38)
  • Play a reciprocal game, such as pat-a-cake, with the infant care teacher and a peer. (7–11 mos.; Frankenburg and others 1990)

Behaviors leading up to the foundation (19 to 35 months)

During this period, the child may:

  • Use gestures to communicate a desire to play with a peer. (18–24 mos.; Parks 2004, 123)

  • Refuse to let a peer have a turn on the swing. (24 mos.; Meisels and others 2003, 45)

  • Push or bite when another child takes a toy. (24–30 mos.; Parks 2004)

  • Engage in complementary interactions, such as feeding a stuffed animal that another child is holding or pulling a friend in the wagon. (24–30 mos.; Meisels and others 2003, 57; Howes and Matheson 1992, 967)

  • Join a group of children who are together in one play space and follow them as they move outside. (30 mos.; Meisels and others 2003, 57)

Next Foundation: Relationships with Peers

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Questions:   Early Education and Support Division | itfoundations@cde.ca.gov | 916-322-6233
Last Reviewed: Thursday, June 17, 2021
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