With the start of the school year comes the start of new friendships. As your child begins school he’ll gravitate towards children, some of whom he will develop close friendships with. As he makes new friends, he’ll likely want to have them over to play. Before you host a first playdate, consider following these five tips.
Invite the parents over. Even with older kids, inviting mom over for a cup of coffee while the kids hang out is a good gesture. It’s only natural for parents to be nervous when their child is going over to a new friend’s home. Extending an invitation for the parents to join can often increase their level of comfort, even if they can’t attend. Talking to the parents prior to hosting their child for a playdate will help you all feel more comfortable and will open the door to ongoing communication.
Keep it short. Keep first playdates short and sweet. If for some reason the kids don’t get along or your child’s guest becomes homesick, the end of your time together is in sight. Once children get to know each other and become comfortable around each other, the length of playdates can be extended. Be sure to communicate the start and end time with the parents as young children can’t be relied upon to pass on parental communications.
Supervise. Different families have different house rules and moral codes. This doesn’t make them right or wrong, it just makes them different. When you’re not familiar with a new friend or his family, you’ll want to supervise the children’s interactions so you can intervene and offer redirection if necessary.
Provide some structure. Having a set activity that the children can do together can help to break the ice for new playmates. A craft, game or activity can help facilitate positive play. Since new playmates may or may not have similar interests and are still discovering what they enjoy doing together, some guidance will be welcome.
Offer a snack. It’s always good measure to ask parents if their child has any allergies or health concerns you need to be aware of prior to hosting him in your home. Once you know what, if any, allergies the child has you can prepare a healthy snack to serve to the kiddos. Having a snack on hand can come in handy if you have to reign in rambunctious kids or if you have ravenous kids on your hands.
Playdates provide an excellent opportunity for children to get to know each other as they build their friendship. Doing your part to help make sure that the first playdate is successful will ensure that the children have a good first experience playing together outside of school hours and will help to foster their budding relationship.