If you’re thinking of scheduling a playdate for your children with your friend’s little ones, you may want to go ahead and plan for a few more. According to early childhood educators, these playdates are beneficial to your child’s social development – in more ways than you think! Here’s a look at the ways playdates shape your child and how you can maximise these precious moments.
They learn how to share
Playdates often involve food and toys! It is natural for kids to be selfish in the moment and want to hog their favourite toy – especially if they never had to share their things at home – so this is prime time to teach them to share and take turns.
If your child’s new friend is willing to share, this is a good time to highlight good behaviour in others. Your child is more likely to model after their friends, so pointing out what their peers are doing right will help them learn good behaviour. You can do so with a simple remark, such as “That was nice of your friend to share her toys with you, wasn’t it?”
Games that include sharing and turn-taking include simple colouring activities that encourage your kids to share materials, or board games such as monopoly where children may fight over their turn. Interacting with others in such a productive way can teach your child generosity and patience.
They learn to communicate
Did you know that playdates can be a precious time to develop empathy and teamwork in your child? Playing together will reveal differences in personalities and communication styles – some children may offer hugs to show their appreciation, share toys with friends they are comfortable with, etc. Even as your child learns to express themselves, they also learn to listen and adjust how they interact with different children.
As such, when playing in a group, your child can become a more inclusive, sociable individual by encouraging their more reserved peers to join in. So even if your child is a little on the shy side, playdates are a safe space for more introverted children to get to know their peers in a safe space and without judgment.
They learn to problem-solve
When your child hits the 1st grade age and enters Primary School, many international schools in Singapore step up your child’s learning for them to be confident and resilient problem solvers. For instance, the IB PYP framework includes play-based learning. With planned kinaesthetic activities in small groups, children learn to play while exploring learning independently, easing them to the primary level.
Similarly, playdates are a great way to develop your child’s critical thinking. Sometimes, accidents happen or disagreements may arise. A variety of social situations will teach your child to problem-solve with empathy and sensitivity, whether independently or together with their playmate.
As outlined above, there are so many benefits to a quality playdate between your kindergartner and their friends, and setting the stage for the children’s play date is key to making it work! Here are some tips to ensure your child’s next playdate goes off without a hitch.
Prepare a few activities
As creative as kids are at coming up with ways to entertain themselves, it’s still best to prepare a few activities they can choose from to avoid major conflicts or unexpected, unsuitable ideas. You can include various activities to suit different interests, perhaps have a mixture of materials for a simple Science experiment and the next creative art and craft activity. Or you can even have a combination – get their hands busy with a fluffy slime-making activity that touches on both Science and Art!
Don’t forget to accommodate different energy levels in case children get restless or exhausted. While high energy children may look forward to the playground and outdoors, others may prefer a storytelling session instead.
Putting out some open-ended toys (e.g. building blocks, stuffed toys) are also great for giving children some free reign. In no time, your children would have built an entire alternate universe of their own!
Set the ground rules
Especially if your child is heading to a friend’s house for a playdate, this is a time to teach your child to be respectful as a guest. So prepare them before the playdate: be sure to set aside rules for how they should interact with others.
For example, remind your child to be gentle and generous; snatching toys and refusing to share are frowned upon. And before touching something that does not belong to them, they should always ask for permission. Simple rules like this can teach your child to respect the boundaries of others.
Playdates are a fun way for kids to socialise and an excellent way for parents to occupy their time meaningfully. In schools, too, play can have a beneficial impact on children’s learning and development. That’s something you definitely don’t want to overlook when searching for your child’s next school!