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Foundation: Relationships with Peers

California Infant/Toddler Learning & Development Foundations.
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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 development of relationships with certain peers through interactions over time
8 months 18 months 36 months

At around eight months of age, children show interest in familiar and unfamiliar children. (8 mos.; Meisels and others 2003, 17)

At around 18 months of age, children prefer to interact with one or two familiar children in the group and usually engage in the same kind of back-and-forth play when interacting with those children. (12–18 mos.; Mueller and Lucas 1975)

At around 36 months of age, children have developed friendships with a small number of children in the group and engage in more complex play with those friends than with other peers.

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)

  • Try to get the attention of another child by smiling at him or babbling to him (6–9 mos.; Hay, Pederson, and Nash 1982)

 

 

For example, the child may:

  • Play the same kind of game, such as run-and-chase, with the same peer almost every day. (Howes 1987, 259)

  • Choose to play in the same area as a friend. (Howes 1987, 259)

For example, the child may:

  • Choose to play with a sibling instead of a less familiar child. (24–36 mos.; Dunn 1983, 795)

  • Exhibit sadness when the favorite friend is not at school one day. (24–36 mos.; Melson and Cohen 1981)

  • Seek one friend for running games and another for building with blocks. (Howes 1987)

  • Play “train” with one or two friends for an extended period of time by pretending that one is driving the train and the rest are riding.

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

During this period, the child may:

  • Look at another child who is lying on the blanket nearby. (4mos.; Meisels and others 2003, 10)

  • Turn toward the voice of a parent or older sibling. (4mos.; Meisels and others 2003, 10)

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

During this period, the child may:

  • Watch an older sibling play nearby. (12 mos.; Meisels and others 2003, 26)

  • Bang blocks together next to a child who is doing the same thing. (12 mos.; Meisels and others 2003, 26)

  • Imitate the simple actions of a peer. (9–12 mos.; Ryalls, Gul, and Ryalls 2000)

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

During this period, the child may:

  • Engage in social pretend play with one or two friends; for example, pretend to be a dog while a friend pretends to be the owner. (24–30 mos.; Howes 1987, 261)

  • Express an interest in playing with a particular child. (13–24 mos.; Howes 1988, 3)

Next Foundation: Identity of Self in Relation to Others

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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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