Tips to Make Friends for Kindergarteners
The transition to Kindergarten is an exciting time for kids. Of course, this big change also comes with uncertainties and potential worries for parents, particularly about their children making friends. In many ways, the first year of school marks the beginning of a child’s social as much as academic education. Therefore, it’s important for parents to manage expectations and maintain perspective about their Kindergartener’s social skills and building healthy friendships.
Here are some tips to help your Kindergartener make friends and to help parents balance any concerns when it comes to their Kindergartener’s friendships.
Though it’s not easy, it’s important for parents to remember that their Kindergartener has entered a new environment in which they are learning how to navigate being a student and an independent individual, as well as how to be a friend. This can feel overwhelming to your child on many levels. Adding parental expectations and/or pressure regarding making friends may turn out to be counter-productive and create unnecessary anxiety for your Kindergartener.
Offering your patience and understanding by managing your expectations in terms of your child’s social skills will alleviate the pressure on yourself as well as your Kindergartener. You may want to ask questions each day about who they like to play with in their class, if they have a best friend, or even if they have experienced negative interactions with other students. However, it’s much healthier in the long run to allow your child to report about their Kindergarten social life on their own, with the confidence that you can support them through navigating friendships when they need it.
Know Your Child
For some kids, socializing and making friends comes easily, whereas others may feel a bit shy and withdrawn. Some children, especially when transitioning through their first year of school, don’t even feel the need to actively seek out a friend or they may consider everyone to be their friend automatically.
At the Kindergarten age, parents know their child best. Therefore, any suggested friendship milestones or preconceived notions about “normal” social skills at that level should come second to your personal knowledge and instincts regarding your child. If your Kindergartener seems eager to learn and content overall at school, that’s a good sign that they are adapting well and meeting expectations.
Of course, there are many simple and fun ways to help your child build social skills and enhance their confidence in making friends as they grow. Here are some helpful hints:
- Allow your child to experience social interactions outside of school, such as at the park, playground, community activities, etc. This will enhance their opportunities and skills for making friends and show them that they can form friendships outside the classroom as well.
- Arrange for a playdate, if possible, with one or more neighborhood kids or fellow Kindergarteners. Be sure to keep it short and simple at first, and if the kids get along and have fun then you can schedule more playdates.
- Be social with your child. Of course, parents shouldn’t aim to be their child’s friend, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t socialize as a family. Activities such as playing board games, putting together puzzles, etc., provide opportunities for expression, communication, taking turns, and developing empathy—all good friendship traits.
- Make a trip to the library to check out some children’s books that are related to making friends and/or the Kindergarten experience. Reading about these topics may give your child some insight into valuable social skills and help them understand that creating and developing friendships is something everyone must learn.
- Model being a good friend for your child. Kids are far more likely to establish a friendship with someone who shows interest in and respect for others. Parents have the opportunity to demonstrate these qualities for their kids when interacting with others.
If you have serious concerns about your child’s social skills or interactions with other Kindergarteners, remember that their teacher is a first-hand resource as far as what actually happens in the classroom. The teacher may be able to provide a different and more thorough perspective or advice to help ease your concerns.
Whether your child is popular among their Kindergarten classmates, develops just one strong friendship, or falls somewhere in between, it’s essential for parents to remember that Kindergarten relationships are not an accurate indicator or predictor of future social status. It’s difficult to keep our own insecurities and remembered school experiences from rushing in as we watch our kids navigate the path of making friends. However, maintaining perspective can help alleviate worries and concerns.
Kindergarten is a chance for kids to learn who they are and who they wish to become as independent individuals. Making friends is part of that learning, but thankfully a small one. In fact, the more comfortable and confident kids feel with themselves, the more likely they are to develop strong social skills and form genuine, meaningful, and lasting friendships as they get older. Parents can support this perspective by encouraging their children to be authentic and like themselves for who they are.
At Cognisprings, we support parents looking for educational toys and materials that will instill a lifelong desire to learn in children. We wish to inspire children to explore who they are through play, imagination, and critical thinking. That’s why we provide books, puzzles, games, and toys that are thoughtfully designed for creativity, natural curiosity, socialization, and experiential learning. In addition, Cognisprings prioritizes fun and educational activities that are screen-free, promote healthy cognitive and social development, and encourage personal growth so that your child is excited to begin their Kindergarten adventure and make friendships along the way.