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My daughter is turning 4 years old in August. She has been going to preschool since September. Her class is pretty small, with only 6 kids. She's good friends with most of them. She'll be joining them again in the next school year.

The school year is coming to an end and she's going to get bored in the summer. It would be great if her classmates could come over to our house and play at some point in the summer.

I guess this is kind of awkward because I don't know her classmates' parents very well and the kids are quite young. I know some might not want to leave such a young kid alone with people they don't know well.

How can I ask without it being weird? Should I also invite the parent over too?


I see the parents when I do the pickup and drop off but it's brief. There has been some small talk and some of them even gave me a lift but I haven't spent a lot of time with them. I don't think the other parents know each other very well either.

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    Hi! It would help to have a little more detail, like have there been playdates already? Do you talk to the other parents when dropping off your kid at school, even if it's just smalltalk? Do you want to invite one of the kids, or all of them? – Tinkeringbell Jun 26 '18 at 12:24
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    Also, would you be willing to offer for your daughter to go to their place to play, or do you want to know the other parents better for that first? How far do they live away? – Tinkeringbell Jun 26 '18 at 12:27
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    Please don’t write answers in comments. It bypasses our quality measures by not having voting (both up and down) available on comments, as well as having other problems detailed on meta. Comments are for clarifying and improving the question; please don’t use them for other purposes. – Tinkeringbell Jun 26 '18 at 17:50
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    Does the play date have to be at your house? Why not a local park or even the local elementary school's playground? – Michael J. Jun 26 '18 at 21:56
  • Just suggest to your daughter she can bring friends over. She will then invite them and then you can meet the parents and kids indirectly. – The Mattbat999 Jun 29 '18 at 3:44

10 Answers 10

70

Even though I am located in Germany, this could also be applicable in other locations.

Make it a get together, maybe a BBQ or something like that.

You invite the parents and their kids. Now you have the opportunity to get to know the parents more so they might trust you in the future. During the time you get to know the parents you might suggest a "play-group" for the kids. This tells everyone that you plan on inviting the kids to a place and have them all play together. Maybe even organize a whatsapp-group or something similar to schedule the play times. Also your daughter can play with the other kids on that day.

If you earned the trust of the parents, then they might not be afraid to leave their kids with you alone. This is the point where you can invite the kids on a regular basis to play with your daughter.

Maybe you can convince the other parents to have the kids play at a different place every time they meet so that the parents can occasionally check on their kids during the time they are at their place.

Whenever you daughter wants to play (this should really be started by her, as it could be creepy if you are the one who wants to have the kids around), then you can simply send a short message into the group and see if anyone wants to join. Something along the lines should be fine:

Hey all, my daughter would really like to play with your kids today. Any of your kids want to join her?

If you are lucky, then the other parents might start to host the play-times too and invite your daughter as well.

If you think that the parents are not entirely comfortable with their kids being "alone", you can always invite the parents too.

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    To your point about the daughter being the one to initiate, she's young enough (only 4yo) that it shouldn't be strange at all for the parents to be asking about it, whether she brought it up or not. Kids that young can't think far enough in advance to consider that three days from now might be a good day to have people over. – David K Jun 26 '18 at 14:21
  • @DavidK I had in mind that if he asks very frequently and it was not the daughter who initiated it (maybe for the same day and not in 3 days), then the other parents might think that you are pedophile. I know that thought is far fetched, but nowadays you can't tell for sure how people think/react – XtremeBaumer Jun 26 '18 at 14:23
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    Hey there! I know this is an old question but we now require answers here to be backed up by personal experience or external sources. So, could you edit to tell us about a similar situation you were in the past? Who was involved, what did you say and how did the other person react? – Ælis yesterday
23

Although I do not have any children myself, I have spent many days collecting my niece from her school with the last three years.

I have found that if I arrived 10-15 minutes before school ended, I always ended up having a conversation with another parent that is there. I found this extremely beneficial as waiting on your own for your daughter/niece can be quite boring.

Although maybe me being younger (21 years of age) may have given parents an excuse to come and talk to me picking up my 7 year old niece, I found that most of the time they were just bored waiting also.

My niece went to a small country school similar enough to yours with only approximately 8 students in the class and over the course of a year you would be surprised at how close you will grow to some of those parents in the class.

My advice for you would be to, if possible, show up at the school 5-10 minutes earlier and wait at the school gates. If you spot another parent there it's easy to strike up a small talk conversation (the weather in Ireland is fantastic at the moment as you may know) and get to know them.

I would always suggest inviting the parent over with the child first as it gives both of you the comfort-ability in getting to know each other while your children play together for a while. (I suggest inviting them to your house for a first play-date)

since you say you have gotten a drive from another parent before, you can use this to your advantage by saying something like

Hey X, thank you so much for the drive the last time i met you, to repay the favour i would love to invite you and your son/daughter to my house for a play-date if you would be interested?

If they say yes then brilliant and if not then just wait until you can get a bit more comfortable with the parents in the school and try again at a later stage. Best of luck!

10

Simple answer- all playdates at least until age of 6-7, and often older, are necessarily kid+parent. The kids themselves are not comfortable being without their parents, unless they are very familiar with the environment. Inviting and entertaining parents in one's home can be complicated- the intimacy can be too much to start- so a helpful strategy is to pick a park/playground/outdoor space that is convenient, familiar, and safe, email the other families that you are thinking of going with your kid on x date at x times, and your kid would love to see their classmates if any were available. Leave it informal, casual, generous. Consider bringing both adult and kid food items to share. Once there, let the kids lead when it comes to engagement- you are all there for your kids, when they are comfortable, the parents will be comfortable. You all will be fast friends in no time. Good luck!

8

I was in pretty much the same situation (same ages too). My daughter was always asking at pick-up if one of her friends (and later several) could come over to her house, and so I mentioned it to her friend's parents when I saw them, and after several times of missing each other's schedules we made it work. The framing of "[my daughter's name] has been asking if [their daughter's name] can come over and play" made asking a lot less odd/awkward. It helped that she'd already been to this friend's birthday party in the past, but certainly could have happened without that.

Inviting parents too is definitely a must, at least the first few times; I always just assumed this is implicit. There doesn't need to be any implication that one set of parents might be bad or abusive or anything here; at that age, just the (very likely) differences in expectations between one household and another are likely to be uncomfortable and overwhelming for a child without the presence of an adult they're comfortable with.

6

The first step is to get the parent's contact information.

Hi, I'm Alice's Dad, Bob. My daughter has been asking for a playdate with your kid, Charlotte. Can we swap phone numbers?

I then send a text saying "This is Alice's Dad, Bob" so we have the number in both of our histories.

Next, invite 1-2 kids over for a playdate. Assuming they don't nap, pick a weekend day and invite them over after lunch for a few hours. The parents are invited, but be ready if they don't stick around (different parents and kids have different expectations).

Have some nice "new" activities in your back pocket, but first just let your daughter show off her toys to her friends. In my experience, simply showing off one's toys and playing with friends is enough for most playdates.

Plan to entertain the parents; have something akin to tea and nibblies available. But if they want to drop off the child and do an errand, just make sure you have their cell phone number.

Most sets of 2-3 kids will self entertain for a while. Keep an ear in, and be ready with an interesting activity if things aren't going well.

After a few iterations, (a) the kids will be more familiar with you, (b) the parents will be more familiar with you, and (c) you'll get better at it.

The next level could be excursions (where you invite them to join you at a museum or a hike), birthday parties (where you do the above, but with 10+ kids at once (!)), or even sleepovers.

5

Italy here so not sure if can be relevant.

When the weather allows for it, the habit is to meet after school in open places nearby (eg: park) where parents have a chance to get in touch.

Usually grand parents or babysitters meet there but every now and then dad or mommy quit early from work.

From there you go: get/give phone number, understand who play along well with your kids and who does not.

Be ready to be on the receiving end of an invitation: it would be really weird if the only option to play with your kid is to come at your place.

4

I don't know if this answer is relevant for you as probably also in Ireland the holidays will be coming up really soon, but I think the question has relevance throughout the year as my wife and I know a lot of people with kids that have similar thoughts/issues (we're from Austria).

What really helped us getting to know other parents and their kids was to organize a birthday party for our kid - I hope others can benefit from this idea as this may not be a short term solution for you.

If your child's birthday is not coming up anytime soon, you could also do a "kindergarten break" party or something similar...

I think the important part is: design the invitations together with your kid and write "of course your parents are invited, too". Write your name and cell phone number on them. This will spark interest in your kid, likely it will want to hand over the invitations personally and other parents will not stand a chance to say no when their child starts talking about it :)


Option two, I just thought about, also from personal experience: When you pick up your child and ask "so, whom did you play with today?" and he or she darts telling you about it, lead the conversation over to "so, maybe you want him or her to come over and play, ask him or her tomorrow of he or she would like that" - so "put the idea in their heads" so to speak. Likely the other kid will start talking to their parents about it; this sure is also a good foundation for the other answers above.

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As your daughter is 4, the parents won't expect a "drop off" playdate, so you have significantly less to worry about with regards to looking creepy.

Additionally, based on our experience with our daughters, playdates serve a dual purpose: yes, the kids like to play, but it's also for the parents to catch a break and have some intelligent conversation.

We generally organized them at a park so the kids would have a chance to run out their energy, and nobody had to stress about if their house was clean or not.

So invite away, or schedule them as a recurring thing, which makes things even easier on everyone.

3

If you want to do this more often, maybe focus on including the parents first and making it for them, as well, by hosting something at a public place.

For example, if there is a kids museum in town, invite the other parents to bring their kids to the museum so everyone can keep in touch over the summer break.

Make it a learning activity, too. Or get them together at a park for a game or bbq. Say that you have invited all the kids from the preschool and the more who can come, the merrier. Parents don't have to come, but it's encouraged.

You can do this a couple times and then the relationships of who wants to be friends should be established and maintain themselves naturally. Good luck!

0

Each answer here is excellent. However, you could also simply send the other parents a note with a message something like:

Dear Parents,

My name is XtremeBaumer. I'm Alice's mother. Our children have played together all year at Little Angels' Preschool.

As we're coming to the end of the year, Alice has mentioned that she will miss her friends over the summer. Since they've spent so much time together this year, I thought it might be nice to have some group playdates or other activities over the summer. Some ideas might be meeting at someone's home (I'd be willing to host the first one) or group outings to the park. I'm also open to other suggestions.

My contact information is....

I look forward to hearing from you!

If there is a class email list, you could send this out as an email. You could also ask your daughter's caregiver to send it out, or even send it to school as a note on paper and ask that a copy be given to each parent.

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