North Dakota State University
NDSU Extension Service

Parenting Pipeline


A newsletter for parents of kindergarten children from the North Dakota State University Extension Service


"Mom, can Travis come over and play?"

Sometimes you may feel you've heard that question one too many times.

However, friends are an important part of a kindergartner's life. The degree of popularity or isolation children experience can affect their self-esteem and their view of their social skills. Oftentimes, the relationships with friends are similar to those with siblings -- best friends one minute, enemies the next.

What about popularity? There's so much emphasis placed on popularity that having only a few friends may seem like a failure. However, parents sometimes make more of the situation than the child. Don't confuse quantity with quality. A child with few friends isn't necessarily lonely or a social outcast since the number of friends varies considerably at this age. Try to respect the level of sociability your child chooses.

Here are some tips for helping your child make friends more easily:

Peers are important. They teach each other facts of life parents never can. They provide emotional support and teach acceptable behavior. It's largely through a child's interaction with peers that some of life's most important attitudes and behaviors are shaped.

The Power of Play

Children of today are growing up in a rapidly changing world characterized by pressure to succeed in all areas. They have less time and opportunity to play and just be kids than children of previous generations. However, research confirms the importance of play in the development of children.

How do children like to play? Kindergartners begin by building and creating with objects, taking on roles and using props. They'll move on to formal and informal games with their peers (hopscotch, jump rope). Imitative play and freedom to use paints and blank paper instead of coloring books help develop creativity.

Sometimes play seems like chaos. Arguments over which game to play and what rules to follow seem to take up a lot of time. Even though you'd like to step in and organize it all so they have more time to play, it's best not to interfere. Going through this process will help children develop their abilities to reason, to judge what's appropriate, to weigh arguments and to learn how consensus can be reached. Learning all this is much more significant for children's development as social human beings than mastering whatever skills are involved in playing the actual game.

Play teaches many important skills and lessons for life. Build time into your child's schedule for play.

This newsletter is published for North Dakota families with kindergarten children by the NDSU Extension Service and distributed through your county extension office. See your extension agent for more parenting information and other home economics programs.

NDSU Extension Service, North Dakota State University of Agriculture and Applied Science, and U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Sharon D. Anderson, Director, Fargo, North Dakota. Distributed in furtherance of the Acts of Congress of May 8 and June 30, 1914. We offer our programs and facilities to all persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, age, Vietnam era veterans status, or sexual orientation; and are an equal opportunity employer.
This publication will be made available in alternative format upon request to people with disabilities (701) 231-7881.

North Dakota State University
NDSU Extension Service