Enrolling your child in a nursery school will be the first of many firsts for you and your little one. Nursery school will probably be the first place your child will spend a few hours without your presence around them. Because of this, it is likely that nursery will be the first place your child will make new friends outside home.
Once your little one starts telling stories about the fun things he does with his new friends, you will feel relieved. This is because widening his social circle is a sign that your child is growing. But what if your child never says anything about making new friends whenever you ask him? Should this be a cause for concern?
Representatives from leading nursery schools in Dubai say that children also socialise at their own pace. As such, you don’t need to be too worried and pressure your little one to make new friends as soon as he enters preschool. However, you can still help your child learn how to make friends. Since this is considered a crucial part of going to school and growing up.
Although you can’t build friendships for your little one, you can give him some tools, ideas, and the confidence he needs to have one new buddy (or more) inside the classroom.
Below are five tips you can follow to guide your child as he tries to widen his social circle in school:
Explain to your child that there are different types of friendship
Many young children think that the first friends they make will remain their buddy for life. Because of this, they may sometimes become very sensitive and jealous if their friend plays with another child.
Hence, it is important you explain to your child. A friend doesn’t have to be one that he hangs out with every minute inside and outside the classroom. If he talks and plays with other children, they can be friends too.
Once your child understands that not all friendships have to be permanent, he will relax a bit and interact more with other children. This will help him make new friends now and in the future.
Invite potential friends for a play date
Sometimes, children need a little push to build friendships with their peers. You can help your child determine if some of his classmates are great friends to have by inviting them for a play date.
Schedule a play date and talk to the parents of the students your little one often talks about. Likewise the children you see him playing with regularly.
If your child is a bit shy in large groups, invite one classmate at a time. Let the play date take place in your home. That way, your child may find it easier to engage more with the classmate. This could pave the way for a longer, more established friendship.
Role-play at home
It’s possible your child has difficulties approaching or talking to other children. You can help him overcome these by role-playing at home. Arrange a room to look like a classroom or head out to your lawn or yard. Explain to your child that you will pretend to be one of his classmates. Then tell him to ask you to play with him.
If it is clear that he has difficulties talking to you, walk him through some ways to approach a classmate. Then, show him how to invite him or her to play. Teach him some simple introductions or conversation starters as well. This will help your child know how to approach and talk to other students. And feel more confident when doing so. He will be able to make new friends even on his own.
Teach your child accepted social behavior and skills
Aside from teaching your little one how to approach and talk to other children. You also need to help him develop manners and skills that his fellow students will like about him.
Some of the essential qualities and skills your child needs to learn are:
When your child knows how to interact and play well with others, he will have fewer difficulties making new friends.
Appreciate and acknowledge your child’s efforts
Praise and reward your child, when he tells you he played with a new classmate or talked to a student from another class. Even if he shares such stories once a week or once a month, show that you appreciate his efforts. No matter how small or infrequent these accomplishments are, acknowledge them. Always tell your child how proud you are that he is trying his best to make new friends.
By being generous with your praise and rewards and show of support, your child will be encouraged to continue trying. As a final tip, ask your child’s nursery class teacher for help, if your little one wants to make friends but is extremely shy. The tutor can facilitate friendships inside the classroom. This will enable your child to get the confidence boost he needs to find a pal or two.
Alan Williamson is the Chief Education Officer at Kings’ Education, a premium school brand in Dubai which leads a fantastic group of premium UK curriculum schools, including Child’s Play Nursery. As well as being passionate about teaching and learning, Alan has been actively involved in school leadership related to Special Educational Needs.