Play Dates-Play Dates-Nord Anglia Education
Nord Anglia
23 January, 2024

Play Dates: A Nursery Community Project

As a parent, you want your child to grow up to be happy, confident and well-adjusted adults. One of the most important factors in achieving this is developing strong social skills. Play is a powerful tool for children to develop these skills. It allows them to begin to understand the world around them. When children play together, the benefits are endless.

Playing with other children builds a variety of personal, social, emotional and language skills. These are the skills that help children develop friendships, learn to share, understand taking turns, be flexible and ask questions.

What can we do as families to better support our children’s development of these skills? The answer is…. PLAY DATES!

What is a play date?
Play dates are one-to-one or small-group gatherings that allow children the time and space to play together and foster friendships.

How do children benefit from play dates?
Since play dates are typically with children outside of the family circle, these sessions allow for your child to practise sharing their own space and toys or become familiar with entering a new environment. Play dates also provide opportunities for children to develop physically, emotionally, cognitively and linguistically. Through play dates, children can develop their sense of self-concept, self-control, cooperation and empathy. These social-emotional skills are integral to building strong relationships and a positive outlook on diversity throughout their lives.

How can I plan a good play date?

Connecting with families within familiar circles, such as educational settings, living environments or through similar interests helps to make play dates more manageable with a stronger chance of continuation. Ask a friend from school, neighbourhood or after-school class if they would like to get together. Play dates can occur in a home, a park, or even an entertainment centre. As long as children have the opportunity to positively interact with each other, it will lead to a good play date!

What role should parents play?
Of course, safety always comes first, but giving the children some autonomy is key. Children need to have the opportunity to interact, negotiate and problem solve on their own. With that being said, it is best for an adult to be within eyeshot and earshot of the play and step in when support is needed, rather than waiting for play to fall apart. After the children become more familiar with each other and the concept of play dates, they will need less and less adult support.

Children of all ages benefit from play dates, however, the younger children begin developing social skills, the better. For this reason, the Nursery teachers at The British International School Shanghai, Puxi are working on a community project to create a network of families that would like to host and participate in play dates.

The teachers hope these connections will enhance the social skills amongst the students and create a stronger community for families within BISS Puxi.

Cindy Gay is a qualified teacher in the USA and UK who has been working internationally for the past fourteen years. Cindy graduated with honours from the University of Arizona with a degree in Elementary Education. Since leaving the USA, she has worked with Early Years students in Spain, Italy and China. She is currently the lead teacher for the Nursery year group.

“My main role is to ensure the children in Early Years have an exceptional learning experience and cultivate a love of learning. I support all teachers, students and families in Nursery. I enjoy planting the seeds of knowledge in such young children and watching them grow to make the world a better place.”

Cindy is married with a son and a daughter who both attend BISS Puxi.