2-3y Play and Interaction

What is it?

Play is your child’s way of experimenting and learning about the world. This includes their learning of new words. Play and interaction are important skills for your child to develop to enhance their learning.

What to expect?

By 2-3 years children will usually:

  • Enjoy pretend play involving themselves, a parent or their toys such as feeding self with toy food or feeding dolly
  • Be interested in others play and starts to join in
  • Interact with familiar adults and beginning to look when adult points and will copy actions
  • Choose their own activities and follow own agenda
  • Try out new things and explore the world around them more actively

Information & advice

You can help by:

  • Being face to face – getting down to your child’s level, e.g. on the floor, on your lap, crouch down, lying down. It makes it easier to see messages we are giving each other if we are face to face. It engages your child, shows your child you are interested and helps them to listen to you.
  • Join in your child’s play- follow their lead; play with what your child is interested in, it is best to follow your child’s play ideas.
  • When playing alongside your child, look at what your child is doing, and respond by copying their action and acknowledge what they say.
  • It is important to talk about what your child is doing while playing, so that they learn what to say by hearing you e.g. ‘it a big cup’.
  • Stop, look and listen – Don’t rush in, give your child a chance to communicate first. Observe and watch your child, looking for the little cues your child gives you however big or small before talking or acting. If you find this a struggle, count to ten. Even if you know what your child wants to say, don’t rush in, wait and listen to them.


  • Encourage pretend play and develop short play sequences . Begin with eating, drinking, brushing yourself and your child. The try large dolls or teddies and pretend to feed, drink and make them jump or sleep, wash them, brush their teeth and hide.
  • Encourage turn-taking and sharing during every day routines such as taking turns to stir the cake mix or building a tower. Praise any nice sharing your child does specifically e.g ‘How lovely, good sharing’.
  • Choose activities which provide opportunities to meet up with and play with other children of a similar age-this is a great way to develop their social interaction skills.