I’m out on vacation this week (wahoo!) So my post is a little short, but don’t you worry, I’m sharing some exciting news next week 🙂
My husband and I just bought our first place a few months ago, and it is in a community with lots of young families. Any given day, you can look out the window or out your front door and there are groups of children playing together. Our pool just opened, most of them are over there these days… anyways, I interact with these little ones quite frequently because I am constantly outside with my dog, who happens to be extremely friendly (worst guard dog, type of friendly). The majority of the neighborhood kids know him because of that. I was noticing how these little ones interact with each other, and it’s so interesting to see how even at a younger age (4-7 year olds) these children yearn for friendship. I just wanted to share some thoughts on social and peer interactions and the influence that early socialization can have on children, and even with school readiness.
One of the most important things for children 2-5 and on, that should be introduced around 2, is socialization. Children come with so many different temperaments, (friendly, shy, active, quiet, etc.) but at a young age they aren’t self aware enough to see those traits in themselves and it is easier for them to learn social skills. Taking your little one out to meet other children and interact can make a world of difference, especially in school.
When children interact with others, they are learning how to take turns, they are more likely to model or imitate hopefully good behaviors or skills (but sometimes bad). Children are more motivated by other children their age or a little older. At the center where I work, we offer a class called play and learn and it’s a short one and a half hour class that encourages children to interact with peers. And nine out of ten times if we put a child in the group who is delayed in speech or an other developmental skill they tend to improve at a quicker rate from watching peers than from interacting with adults. Children also learn to feel comfortable in social settings, it can be scary (I feel like even more so as an adult), but this can really help build self-esteem and confidence at an early age. You can even start to teach conflict management… the list could go on.
I know that some families don’t feel like they know where to get that social interaction, but you’d be surprised how many free things in your community there are to facilitate socializing. Most library’s do a toddler reading time and encourage some open play after. Taking your little one to a park is probably the easiest one. Let them play on the playground by themselves, keep a close eye of course, but let the slide get jammed up from toddlers not knowing how to take turns. With some prompting they will learn how to do it. There are a lot of community classes that are taught for toddlers that will incorporate peer interaction. Check out your local YMCA or recreation center.
What are classes or activities does your community have that help your little one interact with peers his age?? Comment below 🙂