In the past children may have run in and out of each other’s houses all day long but in today’s world official arrangements are much more common. These scheduled activities become the responsibility of the hosting parent so when you decide to invite children over make sure you are set for success. Issue detailed invitations, ask about children’s preferences, have an activity set and expect to serve a snack. Also use these opportunities to teach your child about being a good host.
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Issue Detailed Invitations
You don’t need to send formal, written invitations when you decide to host a play date, but you do need to provide certain details to other parents. Be sure to advise:
- Which child/children in the family are invited.
- If a parent is invited to stay as well.
- How many children will be involved in the play date.
- The names of other child involved.
- The day or date you have in mind.
- A starting time and ending time for the play date.
- What time would be best to serve a snack considering family meal times.
- That you will be home with the children at all times.
- If you are not able to be home with the children, the name of the adult in charge.
- If you will be taking the children out of your home, and to where.
- Your contact details (telephone, mobile, email) for the other parent.
Ask Children’s Preferences
When you invite other children to your home don’t forget to ask about their preferences so you and your child can plan the play date to their liking. Make sure you enquire about any allergies they may have and activities they are not allowed to participate in. Then ask if there are things the child enjoys doing or something (s)he has wanted to do but has not been able to as yet. If you have an activity in mind, ask the other parent outright if this is acceptable for their child. Never plan to do things that you know are off-limits in another child’s home.
Set An Activity
Rather than just inviting children over and shooing them outside or into the play room, expect to provide both an activity for children to undertake together. Popular play time activities include:
- Sports games in the back garden.
- Putting on a play.
- Enjoying a new board game.
- Watching a new film, either at home or at a cinema.
- Craft projects.
- Putting together a new puzzle.
- Playing a new computer or video game.
- Attending a library or book shop story time.
- Touring a child-friendly museum.
- Going to the park, playground, beach, etc.
Serve A Snack
Play date snacks tend to be healthy options, though it doesn’t hurt to throw in a treat or two every once and a while. It helps to offer a few choices for children so everyone has a greater chance of enjoying their food. Make sure to find out about children’s food allergies too so you don’t inadvertently serve anything harmful. Typical play date snacks include:
- Fruit or fruit salad.
- Vegetables and dip.
- Cheese and crackers.
- Milk, water or fruit juice.
- Hot chocolate as a treat in the colder weather.
Teach Your Child How to Host
When you and your child invite others over to play, expect your child to help with the hosting duties. Show him or her how to take their guests’ coats, lead them to the play area, pay attention to what their guests want to do and help serve the snacks when it is time. When their guests leave, your child should thank them for coming over and say goodbye with you. As your child hosts more and more play dates being the host will become second nature.