During the summer, playdates are particularly important for special needs children who may be missing the social activities that they were involved in during elementary school or preschool. Social time is necessary for this age group because they are just learning how to communicate their preferences and needs, and they need time in big groups as well as one-on-one to get their imaginations working, to learn how to speak and listen better and to learn important interaction skills that will be vital to their lives as they get into upper grades. Here are just a few tips to ensure that you can help your child enjoy fabulously fun, inspiring and safe playdates this summer as you wait for the next school year to start.
Start with Short Times and Small Numbers
If you are dealing with a very young child who is not used to playdates or who is about to meet children whom he does not know, make sure that you start with a very small and low-key playdate. Instead of calling up the entire preschool class, invite one or two other parents over to your house or somewhere else your child feels comfortable, and keep the time to one hour or less. As your child gets older, he will gradually feel more comfortable with meeting new people and playing for longer times.
Communicate Concerns to Other Parents
Your child may have allergies, physical needs, or special concerns that other parents will need to know for the playdate to be both fun and safe. Communicate food allergies early on, and let hosts know about any mobility concerns that could become an issue. If you are hosting, ask the other parents about potential issues before the day arrives.
Enjoy the Outdoors
Hosting a playdate in your home can quickly become overwhelming. You may feel as if your home is not clean enough, or you may be concerned that some of your belongings could be ruined. In the summer, find an outdoor space, such as a park, that could work well for free play and that can put all the parents and children on equal footing.