Preschool is about more than learning the alphabet, numbers and colors. It's also about teaching children to succeed socially. They learn how to make friends and interact with others their own age. Some kids take to this quite readily, while other children, usually those who are more quiet and introverted, have a harder time making friends and learning to play with others. If your child is struggling to adapt to the social aspects of preschool, there are a few things you can do at home to help.
Read books about making friends.
Children learn from examples, and there are a lot of children's books that offer great examples of how to make friends and get along with others. Go to the local library with your child, and look for some books on this topic. Let your child pick the books out with you -- this way, he or she is more likely to be interested when you read them. Some great books to consider include:
Toot and Puddle: You Are My Sunshine: This book by Holly Hobbie tells the story of two pigs who are best friends. They treat each other like all good friends should, picking out thoughtful gifts for one another and always standing up for one another.
George and Martha: The Complete Stories of Two Best Friends: Friendships are not perfect, as this book by James Marshall explains. The two friends make mistakes (like your little one likely has), but throughout the course of the book, they learn how to consider each other's feelings and be better friends.
Crazy Hair Day: Written by Barney Saltzberg, this book tells the story of a child who dresses for crazy hair day when it's really picture day. Your child will be encouraged to treat his or her classmates with the same sensitivity displayed by the characters in the book.
Arrange play dates with one child at a time.
Quieter children can sometimes feel overwhelmed when placed into large groups of children, such as what happens at preschool. They have an easier time making friends with one child at a time. By arranging play dates with one classmate at a time, you can help your child slowly build friendships with classmates in a less threatening setting.
Your child's teacher should be able to put you in touch with the parents of other children in the class. Ask your child which children he or she is most friendly with, and then talk to the parents of one of these children to arrange a play date. It is best to have at least the first play date in your own home, since your child will be more comfortable there than at the classmate's house. Try planning an activity for the children, like playing a board game or flying a kite, so they have something to bond over. Once they get to know one another outside of school, they'll be more comfortable interacting in school. And once your child makes one friend, he or she will have an easier time making more friends.
Role play with your child.
Your child might simply be struggling to find the right words when talking to peers at preschool. Role playing at home can help. Pretend you're one of your child's classmates, and have your child practice talking to you as if he or she is trying to make friends. Good phrases for your child to practice saying include:
- "My name is ____, what is yours?"
- "Do you want to play ____ with me?"
- "I like your ____."
Make sure you respond to your child positively, and encourage him or her to smile and be relaxed when talking to other students.
Children adapt and learn at different rates. Some children may learn from these methods and have an easier time making friends within a week or two, while others might take a few months. Just be patient with your child. Keep reading books, inviting friends over, and role playing. Soon, your child will embrace the social side of school and fit in just fine.
If you're looking for a preschool for your child, contact schools like Sammamish Montessori School for more information.