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Play Dates for Your Preschooler

Playgroups and play dates are excellent for your child and for you. Your child will have some fun, develop social skills playing with another child, and even play and experiment with toys that you may not have in your house. You also benefit from parent-to-parent contact. By planning play dates with other parents, you are developing an important parent network that is healthy and helpful to you. As the children play, you can take a break and enjoy the adult conversation. Share child-raising tips and discuss challenges that you face as a parent—you may have answers for other parents and they may have answers for you. Parents are a great resource and source of support for each other.

Tips on playgroups and play dates

  • Start with your family and friends that have kids that are close in age. Contact your local library, community center, church, synagogue or mosque to see if they offer activities and events for parents and children. Any of these can serve as great places to meet other parents and families.
  • Your local playground is a natural destination for families. Here you can meet other parents that are interested in having play dates or starting a playgroup.
  • Keep in mind that parents may have more than one child and sometimes may need to bring all of their children with them to the play date. So make sure you ask ahead.
  • Plan for fun. Have some activities ready for the kids, such as arts and crafts. The kids may need adult supervision and assistance depending on the activity you plan, so be ready to be available.
  • If you plan to have snacks on the play date, be sure to check regarding food allergies and things that are off limits.
  • Have a schedule. At first keep play dates short to see if the kids hit it off. If so, you can start increasing the time of planned play dates, but remember to have an ending time as kids can get cranky (and that is a sign that is time to go home).
  • Take turns hosting play dates.
  • Discuss difficult situations and how parents usually handle them, such as inappropriate language or fighting over a toy.
  • Remember that a play date is meant to be a good time for the kids. If your child is sick or going through separation anxiety, it is probably a good idea to wait to have a play date.

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