Making Friends at Preschool
When I wrote the children’s book “My Little Growing Mindset” I based the story about Sophia on actual events. At my daughters’ preschool, a large oak tree on the front lawn was the gathering place. As parents and children arrived and waited for the center’s doors to open, many of the little ones would play a game of chase around the sturdy old tree trunk.
In the beginning of the school year, my daughters (ages 3 and 4 years old) clung close to me, though they smiled with joy as they watched all the fun. Not wanting to pressure them, I only asked what they were thinking and feeling. One day, a girl named Anna P (there were two Anna’s) walked over and asked my daughters to join in.
That was all it took to overcome their shyness. After that day, they were taking initiative and joining in on their own. One girl’s kindness made all the difference.
Social Skills can be Learned
As parents and caregivers, we strive to create an inclusive environment where our children can thrive and develop essential life skills. Nurturing a growth mindset is one of the ways that we can help children foster friendships.
When children have an open mind about their ability to learn and persist, they see that social skills are just that – skills to be learned and improved upon. Some children might have a natural desire to be outgoing, but the ability to connect with others is not a magical gift that’s only bestowed at birth. Growth mindset parenting will help children feel empowered to choose actions that build friendships.
This Preschool Board Game Can Help
To practice this skill, I’m thrilled to offer this interactive board game available for download here. “Inclusive Friendship Fun” is for children ages 2-5 and promotes growth mindset. It also provides a fantastic way to learn social skills and encourage empathy. If you order a copy of the book “My Little Growing Mindset” you can use your bonus code to get this game and more support materials like this for free!
The design of the game is simple yet empowering.
As you move around the board, your child will invite friends to play in the park. Together you can practice some conversation starters such as:
Hi! My name is...
What is your name?
Do you want to play?
Do you like to play hide and seek?
The best part about this printable is that it’s not just a game. It’s a starter for conversation with your 4 year old about how she can take initiative and help when someone is left out. Ask your 5 year old questions about how it feels when someone asks him to play. He might want to name the characters and have them interact, yet another opportunity for open-ended, imaginative playtime.
If you are using the game at a preschool or childcare center, this activity is perfect for any friend-making and kindness-themed lessons. The game does not have any complicated rules. so that even toddlers and two year olds can join in. It’s all about having fun and growing those little minds.
Learning to be Inclusive
Another benefit of this game is the opportunity to talk about diversity in a relaxed setting with your preschooler. Even as adults we might be fearful of “saying the wrong thing” when meeting new people with different backgrounds or abilities, and avoid the situation altogether. But demonstrating empathy is about the other person, not you. Applying a growth mindset here is especially helpful because we can think about getting to know someone as yet another chance to learn and connect. Help your 3 year old child understand that it’s ok to make a mistake when you are learning. This preschool board game is designed to be a comfortable and fun place to practice various scenarios.
Inclusive friendships are especially significant, as they celebrate diversity and acceptance. Encouraging children to be kind and open to different friends fosters a sense of community and instills empathy, shaping them into compassionate and understanding individuals.
The Impact of Kindness
Regardless of parenting styles, we wish for our children to enjoy meaningful friendships. By embracing the concept of growth mindset parenting, and using tools like the "Inclusive Friendship Fun" board game, you can provide a delightful and educational way to foster these social skills. By practicing kind interactions, embracing inclusivity, and celebrating the power of effort and perseverance, our children will grow into confident, empathetic individuals who cherish close friendships.
At my daughters’ preschool there were many children who benefitted from Anna P’s kindness. One mom told me that her son had come out of his shell and began to play with other children, and that she owed it all to this one little girl.