'Play dates' for five year old. Are they an essential event for kids?

(27 Posts)
Chumble Wed 10-Jul-13 20:50:52

Ds is five and just finishing reception. He is a quietly confident little boy who is happy to play with his siblings or also on his own. At school he talks of many children and appears to have a best friend who he mentions most of the time.

We have invited this child over a few times and another child who have come over to play. He invited another child who seemed too shy to come.

When we walk home other kids call after him and when we have bumped in to people in the park he is able to play with these children so I know he skilled socially!

Ds does not mention play dates but I am overhearing many conversations at the school gates where kids seem to be at each others house quite regularly. Just wondering how many play dates people have during a month? I suppose I wonder if I am disadvantaging him if I do not have play dates? Am I?

KarlosKKrinkelbeim Wed 10-Jul-13 20:54:18

I have a DD of the same age, and a ds a year older. They do look forward to playdates and it creates a bond in their minds with a child if they have seen them out of school. It is tough as I work full time and almost never do pick up/drop off, but the school circulates Mums' contact details at the start of the year, so I organise playdates via text/email. Some mums don't reply, but most are polite and keen to schedule a play date.

knackeredmother Wed 10-Jul-13 21:00:34

Literally mine has had 2 all year ( reception also). She seems to have lots of friends, gets invited to most o f the parties that are for a select few, so seems to have good friendships.
However, I know most of the other children are doing them weekly.
I used to get upset about this but I think in our school it's all about the mothers who don't work engineering these friendships. Those with full time mums seem to be excluded from play dates regardless of their friendships in school.

Chumble Wed 10-Jul-13 21:09:35

I am wondering if the play dates are slightly led more by parents than kids. Although I do work flexibly around school runs, so am often at 'school gate' my other children are further up the school. Whereas the ones that seem to be weekly have younger siblings of same age so see a lot of these parents.

Ds does not seem bothered but equally do not want to him to miss out. Wondering if in five years time I will look back on this as something not worth worrying about!

PoppyWearer Wed 10-Jul-13 21:13:52

We've done one about every 2-3 weeks since February half term (DC1 is in Reception).

It is good at helping them to build friendships, also a good way to deal with problematic friendships. And if you can have the parents over too, a great way to get to know them.

But it depends how much stuff they are doing after school already, too much can push them over the edge!

The other thing is it's useful to start to build these as networks in case you ever need childcare. Not had to call on anyone to help me yet, but I have had other school children a couple of times when the parents needed help or were unwell and couldn't get to pickup. It's good to know I have school parents I can ask for help if I am ever in the same position.

Lastly I find my DCs are much better behaved with another child in the house, which in itself is a big reason to do play dates!

PoppyWearer Wed 10-Jul-13 21:15:19

BTW I am a SAHM but have had several children over whose mums work. Doesn't bother me in the slightest, it's who my DC wanted to come to play. Saves the other mum an after-school club fee!

PoppyWearer Wed 10-Jul-13 21:15:44

And I don't necessarily expect them to be reciprocated.

Kithulu Wed 10-Jul-13 21:22:26

My youngest in R. We have had no play dates this year. blush He does have friends at school, but I am not a chatty in with the in crowd mum. Also we have not been pro-active with invites. We have a large dog that is uncomfortable when strange children come to visit.

eddiemairswife Thu 11-Jul-13 20:20:09

What's the difference between a play-date and having friends round to play, as my children used to? 'Play-date' sounds terribly formal.

morethanpotatoprints Thu 11-Jul-13 20:26:59

I think children playing with friends is essential, especially in the current climate where education seems to be moving away from free play at school.
I think your ds sounds very sociable OP and feel he would benefit from after school play. I wouldn't do anything formal though, just arrange with another mum and keep an eye on them as they are little.

MsGee Thu 11-Jul-13 20:27:25

We have a lot and I've noticed that parents of only children (like me) tend to arrange more. I am also trying to make friends with a group of parents who've all been together during nursery and trying to help DD do the same (only a handful of children joined in reception, rest (40+) together in nursery).

I work at home part time so other mums are only source of friends so I'm probably a bit desperate blush

LapinDeBois Thu 11-Jul-13 21:54:26

We've only done about four this year (Reception). I haven't really done more because DS1 never asks to have friends around, normally. He sounds a bit like your son, in that he's happy playing with friends or on his own (or with his little brother). He does enjoy play dates, but he also finds them quite tiring, and he enjoys a lot of time pottering around on his own or with me. (Also, we do live next door to one of his school friends, so they play in the garden a fair bit together). Contrary to what was said upthread about SAHMs wanting playdates, around here it's the opposite - the kids that do loads of playdates tend to be where there's an element of mutual childcare. Personally, I really wouldn't sweat it. As long as you allow your DS to have playdates if he asks for them, and maybe occasionally suggest that he can invite a friend round if he wants to, then I'd be led by him.

WipsGlitter Thu 11-Jul-13 21:59:56

We've done a few. And he's been on a few. I really, really hate them. I work hard during the week and want to relax at the weekend not referee / supervise another child. I see them as a necessary evil.

Mrsrobertduvall Thu 11-Jul-13 22:03:14

We used to do it once a week......dcs would go to a friend's house one night, then the following week they would come to us.
Home at 6pm.
No problem....

peteypiranha Thu 11-Jul-13 22:06:15

I work full time, and dd is just at the end of reception. She has friends round quite frequently, and we go to different places with them like play cafes, park etc as well. She also spends every evening with her after school club mates on top of that though. It depends on your childs personality, dd is very extroverted and she is always with some friend or another.

FelineFurry Thu 11-Jul-13 22:08:25

I don't think they're important at all. I work full time and I've never really done 'playdates'. I think they're a modern phenomena anyway as when I was a child (a loooooooooonng time ago). you just tended to play out with the children on your road. My boys have always gone to afterschool and played with their friends there. In fact I know one mother who lets her son go the afterschool once a week even though she doesn't need it because he son begged her as he felt he was missing out.

In all honesty when I'm not working I want to spend time with my family not someone else's children.

My boys have gone on playdates and as MrsGee says it's usually the parents of only children who do the inviting. Having said that now they're older (9 and 13) I will invite their friends to come with us if we're going to the cinema or doing an activity I think the boys will enjoy more if they have a friend with them

knackeredmother Thu 11-Jul-13 22:09:16

Perry if you work full time do ou do your play dates at weekends then?
I just can't work out how to fit them in when I'm not home until 7pm most nights.

knackeredmother Thu 11-Jul-13 22:09:43

Petey sorry not perry. Blooming autocorrect

peteypiranha Thu 11-Jul-13 22:14:21

knackeredmother - Her dad is off one day a week so he meets up with other parents and their children on that day either at ours, theirs or the play cafe etc. I am in a management role over 5 days butbthe hours change so sometimes Im out earlt, sometimes later. I have made close friends with some of the parents, one v close and we go out drinking etc together so thats good for meet ups.

Chumble Fri 12-Jul-13 17:55:12

Thanks for replies.

Interested to hear your views....

Ragwort Fri 12-Jul-13 18:02:04

I agree with Poppy - my DS is a bit old for 'playdates' now but when he was younger I would encourage lots - he is an only child so it was good to socialise and I think it is all part of the 'it takes a village' approach, to me it is good for children to mix with other families, see that other families do things differently etc etc.

I find it a shame that so many people lead socially isolated lives where it is not the 'norm' to meet other people and interact with others - you only have to look at all the threads on mumsnet about how adults find it difficult to make friends; I think making friends is a real social skill and for me that started when my DS was quite young. smile

Disclaimer - I am NOT saying that this is the case with anyone on this thread, just my observations in general before I get flamed.

My DS (youngest of 3) is 4 and a half, so a bit younger than your DS. He is super sociable and happy at nursery with loads of friends, but I don't really do any play dates with children from school. We live out in the country quite far from the school so there is no way we can do after school things and weekends are very much family time. He plays with his sisters. DDs are 6 & 8, same goes for them. On the other hand DH & I do socialise a lot with our friends (i.e. not necessarily people from school) many of whom have similar aged children who our children are friends with, so maybe those are classed as playdates. In the holidays I will usually try and get the odd school friend over and they might well be invited over to a friends' house, so yes they are not completely devoid of playdates, but they are not that often. All 3 are v happy, popular and sociable.

I don't remember going on a single playdate as a child, I don't think it did any harm! I played with my brother and on the weekends we saw family friends (i.e. parents' friends and their children) rather than school friends. So I suppose I'm just following a similar pattern of behaviour to what I grew up with. When I was a bit older (more like 10 or 11) it was not uncommon occasionally to go and stay with a friend after school on a friday or have someone over to me. We lived in the middle of nowhere then too so it was always more an overnight thing than a couple of hours playing.

Smartieaddict Sat 13-Jul-13 20:45:22

I don't think they are necessary. My DS, is in reception. He plays regularly with his cousins, who live very close to us. I have never arranged a playdate for him, and he has never asked.

He seems to be quite popular at school, and is happy and sociable. If he starts asking to have friends round then I will be happy to organise it, but until he does, I don't see it as something he needs to do.

lljkk Sat 13-Jul-13 20:50:44

I really don't know. Doesn't matter how many we invite or how often, DC get rather few back. I am very used to it now. DD was the worst, come to think of it, dozens of kids here and no invites back. She has the best social life. DS1 had most invites back and only med. social life.

LaTrucha Sat 13-Jul-13 20:52:23

I used to do lots with my DD before she started reception. I haven't done any since she started as she is extremely tired at the end of the day. I also want her to spend time with her brother. I do worry I am affecting her school friendships as I know her closest friends at school see each other outside it, but for now, for me, that's what I think is best for her.

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