In their first months, children have no awareness of the Other; they are aware firstly of themselves, their body and their motor skills, particularly through playing. Little by little, children discover the objects surrounding them, bring them to their mouths, play with them, touch them. It’s only after eighteen months that a child starts to become interested in other children as people. Children then prefer to spend time with those who move like them, speak like them, and like to do the same things. In order to communicate, they need to imitate each other as language is still uncertain.
Through the process of socialisation, children learn smoothly how to share their games and to enjoy doing so without being asked to. The adults are attentive to ensure that these relationships are built as respectfully and as calmly as possible.
Little by little, and under the watchful eye of adults, children find the most skilful ways to communicate even if their mastery of language is not yet perfect. Times for meeting children from other age groups are also organised (workshops to remove any barriers) to allow them to get to know each other in the best way possible.
“It’s through playing that the world of a child dips into adult life, which builds, even strengthens, social identity […] making playing a true laboratory for social life.”
Extract from Spaces for Playing, Odile PERINO (Editions ERES)