Now that the back to school rush is over and children are settling into routines, you may find them talking about new friends they have made on the playground or classroom.
For the most part, making friends seems to be easy for preschoolers. Without the adult "rules" holding them back, they enjoy the freedom of running over and playing with someone who looks interesting or jumping in and joining a group.
That being said, if your child is a little shy or doesn’t seem to have made any friends at school yet, here are some tips that can help:
- Role Play. Give your child the tools they need by practicing scenarios where they can ask to join in a game or ask a friend to play with them.
- Encourage discussion. Talk about what makes a friend and why being a kind friend is important.
- Host a playdate. Shy children often feel more comfortable in a smaller group setting and a play date with one or two classmates may be just the thing to bring them out of the shell and running into class each day.
- Show an interest. On the way home each day, ask about the other children in the class and point out similarities between your child and them ("look, Ethan has a little brother, just like you!" or "hey look at Katie’s Frozen bag!")
- Read some books about friendship. These scholastic books are great: How do Dinosaurs Stay Friends by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague (Elf booklet) I am kind by Suzy Capozzi (Seasaw reading club)
- Get your child involved.** Classroom activities such as show and share and field trips can encourage discussion and help friendships to blossom.
And most of all don’t worry if you see your child playing alone when you pick them up or drop them off, independent play is important and most children do a mix of playing with friends and playing alone every day. If you are concerned, reach out to the teachers who can give you an idea of what is happening.