Responsible parents know teaching their children life skills are as important as the Three Rs. Among those, developing friendships is essential to a healthy and happy child.

Social gatherings to benefit your child

Play dates come without the formal structure of a classroom and give children the chance to create and hone those skills.

Go to the source

Talk to your child to find out whom they would like to have over. It is important for them to be a part of the process and it will keep you tuned in to who their friends are. If you've had an earlier experience with their choice, only intervene if you think they are not compatible.

Common ground or home turf

Public places such as an outdoor park or an indoor play area are good choices, especially if the parents are not familiar with each other. It can take the pressure off and provide a neutral setting for everyone to get to know each other.

If you choose your home, invite the parent to stay. It will provide them the opportunity to get comfortable with you and your home for future drop-off play dates. Having kids the same age, conversation topics should come easy with your adult guest.

Drop-offs

Careful planning creates a successful drop-off play date. Set it up to avoid meal or nap times. Be informative about pets. Plan for a snack — they are important to keep the grumpy side of a child away. Ask about food allergies. Get more than one emergency contact telephone number in case an emergency should arise.

Reciprocal invites

Grateful parents will appreciate you having their child over for a fun time. Returning the favor is important. Your child will want to see their friend's room, play room or just have the chance to be a part of their home. If you are asked to stay, join in. Play dates aren't just for kids. Many parents have created friendships through their children.

More about play dates

How to steer clear of a bad play date
Want a play date? Sign this waiver first!
How to host a play date that is easy and fun

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