“My kids play with their friends all day at school, do I really have to schedule playdates too?” Yes, it’s worth it! Here’s why…
The humble playdate is one of the best ways to help children develop the social competence so crucial at school and in life. A parent-scheduled playdate for two or more children, is a great opportunity for kids to work on skills that will smooth their entry to formal schooling, whether at the preschool or primary school level. Here are five top benefits of playdates for young children from Singapore American School’s early learning center teachers. Remember, each of these skills takes years to develop—but every playdate is an opportunity for improvement!
Five top benefits of playdates for young learners
1. Making friends: Practice makes perfect, and that’s certainly true of making friends! Playdates are opportunities for children to learn “what works” when interacting with others.
Tip: Let the kids work things out for themselves, but feel free to step in if they seem stuck. Afterwards, chat with your child about how things went.
2. Sharing: Playdates often revolve around toys and food, which means they’re great times to work on sharing! Most kids are quite willing to share but may forget in the fun of the moment. Start with a reminder that everyone must have equal access to things everyone wants. Then keep an eye (or ear) out for disagreements and help keep things fair if necessary.
3. Expressing feelings: It’s vital that kids be able to express their feelings—not only will this skill help them solve problems, but it will also help them develop empathy, an important trait in our complex world.
Tip: A simple check-in with the kids can help them name and discuss what they are feeling. This also demonstrates that sharing your feelings can help everyone be happier together!
4. Speaking and listening: Communication is at the heart of human interaction. While different children have different personalities, playdates can teach both the garrulous and the quiet to communicate more effectively.
Tip: Get the kids chatting with some open-ended questions. Keep an ear out for the chatterbox or the silent child—gently encourage the former to listen more and the latter to join in.
5. Accepting differences: Each child is unique and deserves to be accepted as such. Young children are often very accepting, but can also repeat statements they’ve heard elsewhere without understanding that they may be hurtful.
Tip: If you hear judgemental comments like “boys don’t like dolls” or “anyone who doesn’t like ice cream is weird,” immediately (though gently) state that this is not actually the case and we’re all different—which is why playdates with different people are so cool!
If you are keen to speak to the caring early learning center teachers at Singapore American School or book a virtual tour, get in touch now!