Play dates are an important social experience for your child’s development. While your little one can learn many things from you and other caretakers at home, navigating social situations is a crucial skill that children need to practice in order to master. Socialization offers many opportunities for kids starting in infancy including observance, sharing, imaginative play, and negotiation to name a few, not to mention a lot of fun.
This week we’re exploring the importance of play dates including how they are helpful to your child’s development, how they are beneficial to moms, a timeline for what you can expect your baby to get out of play dates, and rules to ensure things go smoothly for everyone.
The Benefits of Play Dates for Children
Your home life is like a practice studio for the real world. You work on skills and strategies that will help your children find their footing when they leave the nest. At first that’s only for short periods of time to go to day care, school, birthday parties, etc…, but eventually your child will be navigating social situations and relationships as an adult. Giving them adequate social foundations in early childhood will serve them well.
Play dates help fill your child’s toolbox with essential information she’ll need to survive without you nearby. Children learn so much through observation, which is why early childhood play dates should include parent participation, at least to demonstrate appropriate behavior. Parents can model sharing, good manners, conversation skills and empathy to help young children how they should act in social situations. All of these skills require practice and repetition, which is why frequent play dates are important.
Also, while there are endless structured opportunities for children such as playing a sport, attending art or music classes, or visiting the library for story time, the freedom of play dates allows children to make choices about what they want to do. This encourages exploration, discovery, imagination, spontaneity, humor and lots of fun. You may be quite impressed with the ideas your children come up with while enjoying a play date.
The Benefits of Play Dates for Moms
Your little ones may be content playing in the same spaces with the same toys for hours upon hours everyday but it might drive you nuts. Getting out of the house helps keeps mothers sane and makes you feel you’re part of the world again. Having a play date with other children – whether at someone’s home, a park or another kid-friendly establishment – can be just the break you need from the monotony of your home play spaces.
Plus, while your little ones are enjoying playtime, you’ll get to interact with another adult. Much of motherhood, especially being a stay-at-home-mom, may be lonely. Sharing your experiences with another mom can be cathartic. No one can relate to your joys and challenges like a mother in your shoes. Many wonderful friendships spark from mothers seeking companionship through play dates.
Additionally, moms are wealthy resources for valuable information. Perhaps a mom has already crossed a hurdle that you are just reaching such as teething or sleep issues. She can offer advice or at least act as a sounding board for your frustrations and anxiety. From great product recommendations and kid-friendly recipes, to the best schools, parks and pediatricians, moms have super ideas and are usually willing to share.
Later this week we’ll talk about what you can expect from play dates in early childhood as we continue to explore the importance of play dates.
Sources: Café Mom, Everyday Family, Parents, Mom.me and Education.com
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