Pre-School and Daycare

How to encourage making friends? Long

My 3.5 year old son has a very vibrant personality at home.  He talks loudly, jumps around, plays pretend games, etc- overall a normal 3.5 year old. 

He started preschool in the fall and they have told us that at school, he is academically way ahead (he can read some words and can write most of the alphabet in upper case) and can do simple math like 2+5, etc, but socially developing.  Specifically, he will sit at the table and follow directions and participate in what they tell him to (like circle time) but he does not by choice interact with any of the other kids unless they assign him to do it or ask them to work on a joint project (like building or making something).    Additionally, they say that he does not run around during play times and will just wait near the teacher and ask when class will start again.  If they tell him that playing is part of the class, he will go get a ball and run around kicking it or playing on a swing himself or if someone asks him to do something he will (but he does not seem to really like being with other kids).

Much of this is likely my husband and I's fault. We live far away from our family and friends so he spends most of his time other than at preschool at home with our nanny and his little sister.   He does ice skating and swimming lessons and in the summer will do soccer and we take him to kids plays, museums, etc-- but we don't generally have a lot of playdates because quite frankly we don't have many friends in the area and those we have don't have kids anywhere near our kids' ages (we are older parents). 

He is a July birthday, so we are going to hold him so he will be the oldest kid in his class since he is having social issues, but we have to somehow get him to play with other kids better and to enjoy it.  He is so vibrant and outgoing at home or with "big people"... his teachers agree and say that he has engaging conversations with them and seems to enjoy one of the teachers a lot and asks her questions about her day and makes conversation and asks her to play, but ignores all kids. 

What can we do.  I don't know who to have play dates with because we don't know anyone. 

Thanks in advance.

Re: How to encourage making friends? Long

  • rsd12rsd12 member
    edited February 2014
    How about play dates with his preschool class mates?

    My middle son at 3 and a half was a loner. He watched a lot and he has an older and a younger sibling. He is now 6 and while has a few friends he is happy to be by himself. His teacher wrote in his half year report card that he does not need a fan club. But he is very happy at school.

    I should add we moved 18 months ago out of state... And we have all needed to take time to meet people... Like at the park, at school, at an activity.
    Boy 1 2/06 - Boy 2 12/07 - Boy 3 9/09
  • Thanks both. 

    Auntie Mod- what if any signs did you notice at home?  Did he have a completely different personality at school than at home?   I likely ignorantly thought that if a child was showing empathy, is loving, super talkative, etc-- that any social issues would likely be another problem, but it sounds like it could be autism?  

    I would love to get him intervention as early as possible, so I will talk to his doctor at next apt.

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  • I don't have too much experience with this, DD was very quite when she started preschool, I think it had something to do with her being 3 1/2 and she was put in class where everyone was atleast 4 1/2.  It took months, but she seems to be very comfortable with the kids now.  I also don't know much about Aspergers, I would have thought the child would have more difficulty communicating and forming relationships, but it does sound like he shows some of the signs.

    I just wanted to comment because I'm wondering why you're holding him back a year?  If your cut off is similar to ours, the child needs to be 5 by September.  My birthday is August and I never really felt all that much younger or behind my classmates.  Since your child seems to enjoy adults, assuming more mature children, and is on his way to being ready for Kindergarden, why have you decided to wait another year already, especially since you don't have to decide until next year?
  • Personally, I would not hold back for social reasons when your child is already academically ahead.

    I'd arrange play dates with his classmates or other children his age (or just slightly older). I'm sure you could get a class list from his school...maybe even from his other activities. It sounds like he could benefit from more one on one time with other kids.

    Have you talked to his teacher and/or his ped about your concerns?

  • rsd12rsd12 member
    We also were planning to hold out our middle son for social reasons. Because we moved and the cutoff was to his benefit this no longer was an issue. But best decision for our family. He would not have been ready for kindergarten last yr. He is doing well academically and socially this year!
    Boy 1 2/06 - Boy 2 12/07 - Boy 3 9/09
  • How does he do with older children? He might be an introvert. He might also just be advanced in a way that his age peers aren't his intellectual peers, so he just doesn't enjoy them. If it is the 2nd one, holding him back will be a huge disservice.
    Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker
  • My kids were similar, especially my oldest.  She was an academically advanced, quiet kid who needed a little practice through preschool to get the hang of playing with other kids.  She became gradually more comfortable, but she didn't really have "a best friend" until she was 5.

    I remember that it seemed like the biggest deal at the time.  I was so worried about her!!  If I could go back in time, I'd tell myself to relax.  I can't do that, so I'll tell you to relax instead!
    High School English teacher and mom of 2 kids:

    DD, born 9/06/00 -- 12th grade
    DS, born 8/25/04 -- 7th grade
  • You've received lots of good info but I will chime in about holding back, we also are holding back August twins because our DS is socially less mature than other kids his age and struggles w/ some anxiety type behaviors but he is fine or ahead academically (eh- on those bracken assessments he is 98th percentile or something but so is the majority of the prek class so I don't really know what that means). While his sister would likely be totally fine to go to K next year, we won't split them up and the potential harm in sending them before he is ready far outweighs the academics in my head and I know she will be just fine. You can always challenge & do more academic work but once you enter school and are in a grade/cohort, social is much harder to deal with. we are sending to private k ,then public k. GL!
  • I can't seem to edit my previous post... just wanted to say that we are having our kids repeat K (in 2 different settings, not the same school), not holding back..that way we feel like they're still progressing since they're in prek full time this year already, and while the public k curriculum may have a lot of the same academic elements as the private one, it will be a new setting, new rules, new friends and our schools also do some sort of testing/assessment before the school year so that they can tailor teaching in the classroom based on level, instead of spending the first few months figuring out everyone's abilities... it is pretty common here for kids to be held back though. I know some people will say to just send to K and then hold back if it doesnt go well but seems to me that could have more social implications if within the same school.
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