Learning and Sharing

The Importance of Playdates

on June 29, 2013


When I was  catching up on some of the Autism Live webcast episodes I listened to a story of how a determined mom turned her home into “playdate central” for the summer and what a dramatic difference it made for her son in developing many social skills. I thought this topic would make a great blog post.

Playdates are an important tool to help children develop the social skills necessary to relate to peers both at home and at school. I found this article 5 Secrets for a successful play date by Pam Walsh at  She writes that “by sharing, negotiating, listening, and basic interaction, playdates are jam-packed with learning opportunities”.

5 Secrets:

Prepare–  Talk to your child about what to expect and what is expected.  I created this script to use as a visual support to help prepare for the playdate.


Set rules!  Write down 3-4 rules and at the beginning of the playdate clearly state what the rules are.  If they are written down they become easy reminders if necessary.

Structure time around clear activities.  A parent may be needed to act as facilitator at first until the children are comfortable together.

Snack time breaks things up.  Make it fun by letting the children help prepare it.

Limit time of the playdate.  You want the playdate to go well and end on a happy note so set a specific time limit-an hour to start out.

Pam Walsh also writes that “Playdates are worth the effort!  A couple of good friendships are the building blocks for many life skills.”

Remember that successful playdates take practice and things may not go exactly right the first time.  Praise and compliment all the expected behaviors and let your child know that if there were problems you can practice some more together for the next time.

Hope everyone is enjoying the summer and having playdates!

My best,


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