Some kids are just like magnets and they have a gaggle of new mates to play with before the first break, while others may take longer to click with someone. As a parent, you want your child to be happy at school and you are keen to know that they have someone to play with. At the end of the day, it is down to your children to make their friends, however we all need some help now and again. Here are some pointers to help parents aid friendships.
1) Learn the roll - Take an interest in who is in your child's class. If you are around for school drop off or pick up, chat to the other parents and get to know the other classmates by names. If you are not at pick up/drop off times, study up on the class photo if it comes out early in the school year.
2) Give your child a plan - Some kids get overwhelmed with what to do at break time. Break it down for them and encourage to play on something that is activity based like the playground or sandpit etc. These play places are awesome as they can be places that they can play "alongside" others so if they don't have a friend, it's no big deal.
3) Bring a prop - Sometimes a ball, colouring, soft toy etc can be a great ice breaker and help children find their feet socially. So if your school allows kids to bring things from home to play this can be a great way to facilitate play. If the school has rules around bringing stuff from home (and so many schools do) find out if your child can access sports gear or try the library where lots of schools have board games and puzzles.
4) Create a meeting spot - When friends get separated into different classes in the new school year, it can be quite unsettling. Get your child to organise a meeting spot where they meet up at break time. Schools can be big busy places and surprisingly tricky to find someone else.
5) Eat and greet - Often what children are going to play is decided during eating times, so encourage your child to sit with others at eating times as this will naturally lead to going off to play together. Keep food bitesize and easy to handle so that your child can fuel up fast and others won't leave to play while they are still munching.
6) Handball is king - One game that seems to be played in primary, intermediate and secondary school is handball (or any other name version). Teach your child the rules, practice the game at home and arm them with a tennis ball to take to school. It's a really easy game to join in or to start a game up of.
7) Join a club - Lots of school offer activities at lunch time like sports, crafts, technology etc. Ask if your child knows what's on offer and where exactly it is being held and what days.
8) Explicitly teach interactions - Some kids need a bit more structure to make connections with others. Some ways to do this and aid interaction with others are asking questions like " Hey, what do you want to play today?" or " I was thinking of playing on the ....., do you want to play there?" These questions are more effective than "Can I play?" Conversation starters are also helpful. Comments like "I like minecraft. Do you play Minecraft at all? " Teach your child the formula and how to adapt it. Click here to find out some tips from The Supernanny on how to manage friendship problems.
9) Invite them over - It goes without saying playdates work well to enable friendships. If you don't know the child or parent, send a note via the child with your name and mobile number so you can chat before the play date.
Happy back to school everyone!