Hoping to get some kids together? That can get fun and social interaction can help your kid's growth too. Scheduling playdates is vital to their development.
Don't fret if it's your first time arranging a playdate. Whether you're the host or guest, we've got some important tips for you to read through. Check out our guide for scheduling fun and safe playdates below:
1. Keep It Short
Don't forget that young kids have short attention spans. They get bored easily and might not want to stick around for more too long. Even with their best friends, keep playdates short.
For most toddlers, an hour is a good start.
The only exception is when you're arranging playdates for babies. Most babies don't play with others anyway. These playdates are more about the adults getting together so you can push for more time.
2. Fewer Playmates
It's tempting to more kids involved but fight this urge. Unless these kids know each other well, it's a better idea to limited how many playdate kids get together.
Fewer kids guarantee you won't get overwhelmed. It won't be too difficult to attend to their needs and prevent emergencies. Imagine how chaotic it could get if one child cuts a finger and you have to calm down ten other kids.
When is it time to add more playmates? Wait for the kids to let you know. They'll often be the first ones to ask if a new friend can join them.
3. Prepare Activities
Whatever you do, don't wing play therapy. List down games they can play and prioritize ones that are safe and encourage cooperative engagement. If you can, introduce games that also spark their imagination and critical thinking, like puzzle games.
As mentioned, kids get bored quickly so have a long list of different games you can play. If you prepared five, add five more. Maintain that mentality because children can get unpredictable and you never want to run out of ideas to keep them engaged.
Switch up the types of games too. Make some activities focus on competitive play and others on co-op. Make some games focus on logical thinking while others are more physical.
4. Keep Snacks at the Ready
Got the kids running around playing tag? You can bet they're going to get hungry as soon as they settle down. Arranging a playdate also involves preparing a ton of food.
First off, you need to prioritize healthy snacks. This doesn't mean offering snacks that don't taste good. Throw in some candy or other kid snacks but with moderation.
If possible, make sure there's something for everyone. Does one kid love grapes or cheese crackers? Add those in to make sure they feel excited to sit down and eat.
5. Allergies and Other Concerns
Call the parents beforehand and ask for any health hazards and precautions. If there are kids with autism, ADHD, or other conditions then you should know how to properly handle their needs.
This also applies to the snacks. Call and list down any food allergies to ensure you don't prepare food the kids can't eat. Forgetting to do this could lead to a sudden trip to the hospital.
6. Establish Ground Rules
Unless you're scheduling playdates for babies, take time to remind the kids about ground rules. Keep them simple and don't spout too many, otherwise, they won't listen or remember what you said.
Remind the kids about these ground rules too. If you live close to the highway, make sure they always hear the rule about not running to the road.
One good way to implement rules is to practice positive reinforcement. Keep bags of treats and hand them out to kids who followed the rules before they go home.
This keeps them excited. It's a more effective means compared to scaring them with threats of punishment. You want the kids to feel excited about getting together again, not afraid of the next playdate.
7. Poking the Comfort Zone
Don't feel afraid to poke their comfort zones. If you have kids who aren't into sports, don't force them to play a game of dodgeball or baseball on day one. Ease them into activities they're not good at, slowly and carefully.
Turn this into a rewarding experience, especially for snacks.
Got kids who hate vegetables and fruits? Offer these in a way they'll love. Some kids won't notice vegetables if you dress them up like meat or chocolate.
8. Constant Communication
Playdates don't end with the kids going home. Get in touch with the parents and get feedback. Ask about any issues and get suggestions about how you can improve the next play session.
Constant communication can help iron out problems. All the kids might look fine during the playdate but one might cry as soon as they get home. It's important to know about these instances because you never want to repeat mistakes that could ruin a kid's experience.
9. Dropping Off
Is this your kid's first time going to a playdate at someone else's house? Don't drop them off. Stick around in case they get too shy or uncomfortable.
You don't want to be fifteen minutes away when your kid cries and wants to go home. Those fifteen minutes can stretch to eternity for the host. Only start dropping off once you know your kid feels comfortable and has been at the location several times.
If you do start dropping off your kids for playdates, get multiple contact numbers. Get the contact information of the hosts and other parents. This ensures you'll always have a means of getting in touch in case of an emergency.
10. Regular Schedule
Most kids easily fall into a routine. If you scheduled a playdate for a Saturday morning, whether you're the guest or host, make sure the next session is also on a Saturday morning. Follow a regular schedule so that the kids can remember it.
Arrange Fun Playdates Now!
Scheduling a playdate for kids isn't too difficult but you need to keep a few things in mind. The tips listed here should help the kids adjust and have a fun, safe time. Follow them to arrange the best playdates!
If you're looking for more tips about handling children, we've got more guides for you. Feel free to read our other posts today and discover amazing tips and tricks!