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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Play date perfection

Fun play dates
Play dates can be more than just fun and games (If you planned it well)!

First, let's look at the advantages of having play dates.

Watch and Learn
As your child observes you portioning out cookies and crayons, he'll pick up important lessons on sharing

Get hands on
First-hand experiences of sharing and interacting with other kids is one of the fastest ways of teaching children social skills.

Happy Kids
Play time helps to improve a child's emotional development as such a loss of such time Can mean an increase in stress and anxiety

Speak Up
Putting kids together is a great way to give verbal skills a boost. Children naturally want to communicate with one another, and play dates allow them to figure out how to get started.

15 Tips to a successful Play Date

1. Make Connections
Get to know the parents of your child's classmates or schoolmates. Volunteer at preschool activities or set up carpools. Once you're on good terms with other parents, chances to arrange play dates will come thick and fast.

2. Plus One
Initially, young children and parents alike might not be comfortable with the idea of solo play dates. Invite the other parent or caregiver along for a cup of tea and a get-to-know-you-better session while the kids are at play.

3. Fun Size
Keep play dates restricted to one or two other children each time. When too many are present, children can get distracted, overwhelmed or withdrawn.

4. Too much, too many
Play dates are great when they're fun for kids. Too many play dates however, can feel like work for children especially since they're encouraged to be on their best behaviour every time. If your child attends preschool, play dates once a week are a good way to start.

5. Time it right
To ensure maximum enjoyment at play dates, avoid scheduling them at meal or nap times. Keep play dates short - one hour each time for first dates or two at the most for regular pals. don't forget to pencil in breaks for snake time or unwinding.

6. Take the lead
Let junior decide who he wants to invite. Suggest his favourite playmates at preschool. Explain that it's important to make his friends feel welcome and ask him which activities he thinks they might enjoy. Boost his sense of importance by letting him answer the door or bring out the snacks. When your child feels that he's in charge, he'll welcome the chance to host play dates.

7. Go low tech
Banning the TV ans the computer might be akin to cutting off kids' life line but don't shy away from doing it. Play dates are all about communication and this won't happen when kids are glued to the screen. Let your child and his guest know about this rule in advance.

8. Stash it
Play dates might be all about nurturing good social skills but kids will be kids, especially when it comes to prized possessions. To prevent potential fall-outs, keep favourite toys out of sight and set out collaborative options such as building blocks, toy soldiers or dolls instead.

9. Bite in
Snack time

Does your child's guest have food allergies or is she picky about certain types of food? Knowing your guest's tastes ahead of time can go a long way towards a seamless snack time.

10. Free Stylin!

Let kids get creative instead of off-the-shelf options, set out crayons and finger paint, plasticine etc. You might just be surprised at how much fun children get out of free-form and open ended activities such as these.

11. Side by side
Don't despair if your preschooler isn't playing with his friend. Younger children often enjoy simply playing in the company of a friend, even in different rooms at times. Known as "parallel play", this form of interaction often blossoms into full blown interaction with time.

12. Be a cheerleader
Kids like to know that they're doing well, even when they're playing with a friend. Make a conscious effort to praise your child (and his friend!) when they do something right and you'll minimise the likelihood of negative behaviour rearing its head during the date.

13. Step in

Don't jump in at every minor disagreement. Allow kids to work things out among themselves. When you have to intervene, do so kindly but firmly. If things are getting too heated, separate the children for a short period of time.

14. Clean-up crew
Let kids know that they are responsible for picking up after themselves and putting play equipment back in its place before calling it a day. Simple reminders with an incentive attached will often do the trick. Such as, "As soon as you guys pick up your toys you can have cupcakes for tea time!", should do the work.

15. Be realistic
As much as play dates are supposed to be about fun, just 15 minutes of harmonious play is a big accomplishment when it comes to preschoolers. Don't beat yourself up if squabbles, spilt milk and crumbled cake arise - Its really part of the fun.

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Blogger Jaanvi said...

Hi dear
How r u doing? long time,no see..

December 15, 2008 at 6:14 PM  
Blogger donald said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.



December 27, 2008 at 1:16 PM  

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