Advertorial brought to you in association with Aptamil Growing Up milks, for children over 1 year old.
In many ways us mums are luckier than ever now with the amount of toddler classes available throughout the week. Like most families we’ve tried a number of what’s on offer including nature classes, swimming lessons and sensory mornings. Whilst the boys enjoy these exciting activities, there’s still a lot to be said about a good old fashioned playdate, which turns out is just as important for our child’s learning how to make new friends and play with others. It’s amazing how much our little ones enjoy these unburdened play sessions, where they’re free to play as they please without any class structures to follow.
With everyone’s hectic schedules, playdates aren’t always the easiest things to coordinate. Once you finally get one organised you might find your toddlers are either 1. Thrilled to play together (best case scenario) 2. Off in their own little worlds (fine) or 3. Squabbling and crying (oh, help!) As parents/carers, we can never truly know how our arranged playdate will go, yet be assured our toddlers are still observing lots of social rules and skills in the process. Here are some of the reasons we’ve made weekly playdates a priority!
Toddlers can learn to play with others
A lot of the time toddlers tend to engage in parallel play, where they play independently, alongside other children. This is something encouraged in the Science of Play videos from Aptamil Growing Up milks’, which sweetly illustrate parallel play and how children learn a great deal from each other by simply playing side by side. They are constantly observing their surroundings and watching the way their peers interact. Finlay will often come out with a new word or phrase, which he has soaked in without me realising!
A chance to practise what they’ve been taught
There’s lots for toddlers to learn from both being visitors on a play date to being the host themselves. When I take Finlay and Parker to a playdate at a friend’s house I’m always very conscious of Finlay practising his manners. I try to encourage him not to snatch, to play nicely and to adjust to the rules of another family. It’s also an important way for him to learn how to take turns with the exciting new toys to play with. When it’s our chance to host, it’s Finlay’s opportunity to practise sharing his prized toys, which isn’t always an easy task but one he’s slowly gotten more used to, especially now his younger brother is on the move.
Parents can watch how their child interacts with other children
I’m always interested to see how Finlay will behave on a playdate. Something I’ve noticed is that he’s a bit of a chameleon and adapts his behaviour depending on who his play mate is. He has a couple of adventurous friends and as soon as he’s in their company Finlay will push his own boundaries to keep up with them. However, he’s also very happy to play quietly on his own. Each playdate is different and brings something new to the table, which keeps me on my toes!
They give your child dedicated play time & a weekly activity all of their own
As the Science of Play videos show, children learn through play, from discovering their creativity through songs and dance to finding their voice and communicating. So having this regular dedicated play time with just one or two close friends does wonders for learning transferrable skills. It also gives them a dedicated weekly activity all of their own and some- thing to look forward to! It’s been lovely to witness just how much Finlay and Parker enjoy their playdates, as they associate them with their special time to simply play and be around their peers.
Share parenting experiences with other mums
Regular playdates are as much for little ones as they are for mums. Whether it’s dealing with toddler tantrums or teething, if you’re going through a tough parenting period it’s often helpful to chat with a fellow mum who understands and likely to be going through similar situations to you. I’ve been surprised how friendships have developed so quickly and easily through organising these regular playdates.
How often do you go on playdates? Does your child enjoy them? I’d love to hear!