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play dates etiquette, reception (bit long, sorry)

(20 Posts)
longingforsleep Wed 15-Jul-09 13:32:46

Can anyone help me with this issue, which i find a bit of a minefield?

My DS is 5 next week, and while he's done very well academically at school, I think it's fair to say that socially it's been pretty tough for him. As one of the youngest in the year, he's quite immature and sensitive (and cries easily), and some of the older kids seem streets ahead in confidence.

He definitely hasn't made a best friend, per se, but seems to be on the fringes of a couple of groups. Sometimes he says the others say he cannot play with them, which is heart breaking, but I don't think this is a constant thing. Occasionally during the year he's vaguely mentioned children coming back to the house, but when questioned further he seems less keen, so I haven't pushed it. To be honest, he seemed so exhausted after school for such a long time that I think he was quite relieved to just be at home and relax, if you see what I mean. Personally, I find play dates really stressful and don't enjoy them, but if it helps my ds socially, I must bite the bullet.

I've noticed lately that quite a few of the children my DS has mentioned have paired off with a best friend - does that mean it's best not to ask them for fear of causing offense with their mothers? And seeing as the term is nearly over, should I just leave it until September or will my DS be at even more of a disadvantage if he still doesn't have a particular friend then?

I spend so much time worrying about this. Generally he's a really happy boy who enjoys school - that must be a good thing, surely!

Any advice gratefully received. Has anyone been through this and come out the other side?

Many thanks, in advance

GrimmaTheNome Wed 15-Jul-09 13:38:48

IME no-one minds having their child asked for a playdate, even (or sometimes, especially) if they have a 'best friend'.

During the summer hols might work well - kids shouldn't be too tired, but may be bored and grateful for company.

alarkaspree Wed 15-Jul-09 13:39:36

I think if your ds is not that confident socially he would really benefit from having the opportunity to play with other children one-on-one rather than in a big group at school. He will get to know them better and then be better able to join in their games in a group environment.

Do you know any of the parents of the other children he plays with? If you're a bit uncomfortable about playdates maybe you could suggest meeting up with one or two friends in the park over the holidays, then you can see how he gets on with them.

Why do you find playdates so stressful? Is it the children or the parents?

alarkaspree Wed 15-Jul-09 13:41:25

And of course parents will not mind having a playdate with someone who isn't their child's best friend. But you should avoid having a playdate with the two best friends together, your ds is likely to get left out. I've found groups of 3 five-year-olds rarely work well.

longingforsleep Wed 15-Jul-09 13:42:20

Thanks GTN. That does make perfect sense.

Anyone else?

forkhandles Wed 15-Jul-09 13:47:40

I have found that since DD1 has been at school the playdates are less stressful as the parents don't come too. So you don't have to worry about your house looking really clean and tidy and chatting to them.

By the time you've got home from school, the kids have had a snack and a play it's time for tea and then off they go.

I wouldn't worry about the lack of best friend, they are still young at this age to have one best friend. DD1 is in yr1 and it seems that the children have a group of friends and within that group there may be a favoured child but it's all very fluid. Also don't worry about asking another child's best friend over.

longingforsleep Wed 15-Jul-09 13:48:27

THanks Alarkaspree.

The park sounds like a good compromise, I'll try that.
I think I find combining a play date with managing my very active toddler difficult. He wants to join in everything and screams if he can't.

What do you find to be the most successful playdate formula?

longingforsleep Wed 15-Jul-09 13:51:45

Thanks Forkhandles. Can I ask - how often do you do playdates?

forkhandles Wed 15-Jul-09 13:52:41

I let my younger ones join in to a point, but then I also think that DD1 and her friend should be allowed to play alone if they want.

Normally when they get home from school they all have a play together and then if DD1 and friend want to play together they would go up to her bedroom. Then I would put the TV on or produce something like <gasp> moonsand for them to play with as a distraction if needed!

sunburntats Wed 15-Jul-09 13:54:13

you are describing my ds perfectly! he was 6 last week so like yours when he started he was the youngest in the class, and as you say, the other kids are streets ahead of him confidence and socially wise.

So play dates.
We asked his teacher about this " no one plays with me" & " they dont let me join in, or play".
She told us that actually it is very normal for children of this age to not form firm friendships just yet and for them to flit between groups.
Have to say that having observed this for myself over the last year, it is very true.

We got a couple of names of children that my son was friendly with, but not attached to.

Approached the mum in the play ground for a day convenient (this was hard as i am excrutiatingly shy with people i dont know, but as you say...bite that bullet)Got a day, took him home, made pizza for tea and let them play together for a couple of hours.
It was fine, it defo strengthened the friendship (although ds does not play with this boy at all this year) and ds really enjoyed himself.
Not done it since, but may well do it after the summer hols.
I could only cope with one child at a time it think.
Leave it till Sept then just go for it, ask for advice from teacher first tho.

I ask him "what did you do at school today?"
ds " nothing"
me "who did you play with?"
ds "no one". yet if i drive past at play time...there he is in the thick of it!

blametheparents Wed 15-Jul-09 13:55:33

In the past I have asked my mum to have my younger one when I have had a freind round for DS. Not strictly necessary, but does make the whole thing a bit less stressful and you can then suggest some games to your older one and his friend.
If this is not possible, could your DS's friend come round at your toddler's nap time?
Otherwise, let the two oler ones get on with it and make special time for your toddler so that he does not want to join in.
All sounds so easy when it is written down, but I do know what you mean. DD can ben a little demon when DS has friends round! It is better now that she is older and she can have a friend round too, but does not always work out that way.

forkhandles Wed 15-Jul-09 13:56:12

Do you know I've only done two this term! I go in fits and starts with it and sometimes will do 3 before the half term has arrived but have been a bit lacking in energy this term!

I suspect when she's in her new class next year I will make more of an effort as her school do mixed year groups so she won't be with all of her original class and might need to make some new friends again. And maybe by Sept I will be more enthusiastic

alarkaspree Wed 15-Jul-09 14:00:56

I have a 3-year-old too, most of dd's friends are happy to play with him as well. But if your toddler is younger it can be difficult, being outside is helpful here too. If you have a garden you could put a sprinkler on for them or just fill some buckets of water.

The other approach is to try to approach any of your ds's friends who also have a younger sibling, and invite the whole family round.

longingforsleep Wed 15-Jul-09 14:12:16

Thanks sunburntats. Nice to know I'm not the only one. Is you DS about to finish Y1 - has he had a better year than Reception?

Blametheparents, again, really good advice. Sadly my mum miles away, but nap time a distinct possibility.

sunburntats Wed 15-Jul-09 14:18:26

He is finishing yr 1 yes.
He has setled in a bit better this year, but still has no firm friends at school.
Reception was like daily torture to him though, he hated it, hated the teacher hated the routine, hated the rules and had no one to play with.

I am confident that he will get on much much better next year.

basic Wed 15-Jul-09 14:22:27

I did the playdates thing to the hilt. Loads of them. Never made any difference. Good luck but don't stress if it makes no visible difference to you. I eventually dropped the playdates and now dc (eventually) got loads of friends.

GrapefruitMoon Wed 15-Jul-09 14:23:33

My ds is also in Reception - he is very sociable and popular but still says that his "friends" sometimes don't let him join in! I think boys in particular are less likely to pair off with a best friend than girls are - even now my older ds still doesn't really have a best friend. I have done very few playdates this year - but will probably make more of an effort next year.

How about suggesting a regular meet-up at a local park over the holidays to all the parents? That way you don't have to make firm arrangements with anyone in particular but if you go along on that day you are more likely to meet someone from the class?

longingforsleep Wed 15-Jul-09 14:34:13

Thanks Basic and GrapefuitMoon. The thing is, I think my DS really tries to be sociable and wants to join in, and I don't understand why the others don't always let him. They seem to blow a bit hot and cold (just as you've said, GFM). Or sometimes in the playground in the morning a child will be playing with my DS and drop him like a hot potato when another (more popular) child comes along. Or am I just paranoid? Quite possible.

The local park definitely seems to be the way to go....

GrapefruitMoon Wed 15-Jul-09 16:36:23

There is often one child in a class who makes friends with another child and then won't let anyone else join in or let that child play with anyone else.

If it is still a problem next year have a quiet word with the teacher - she should be able to observe how they are all getting on and can tell you if your ds really is being excluded or not...

southernbelle77 Wed 15-Jul-09 18:55:44

Definitely just bite the bullet! When dd started school she didn't know anyone when lots of the others knew each other from preschool (we moved so dd went to a different preschool). I felt very sad for dd for a while as she didn't seem to have any friends although she wasn't sad itms. We found that walking home another girl in dd's class lived in our road and so we often bumped into her and I got talking to her mum. I bit the bullet and invited her back which was much less scary than I had envisaged! Since then dd has made one particular best friend so I do now worry that she isn't really making any other friends! She has only had 3 friends back (the first one, her best friend (lots of times!) and another girl who she is friends with and whose mum I have got to know) and I feel it would be good for her to have more. However, she just had her birthday party and invited nearly all the girls in the class (and some boys but we don't really play with them apparently!) and they all came and played together so figure she is making friends, I just don't see it as such!
Summer holidays would be good I think so try and see if you can arrange some playdates for then. Good luck

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