Are you unsure whether you want to hire a nanny or send your child to daycare? A lot of parents feel daycare is a better direction because their child will develop more social skills while there. A nanny can help a child develop social skills and provide your family with so much more!
Practice Social Skills on Adventures!
For many years before I had children of my own, I was a nanny to two amazing families. I am a very active person and love staying busy. Because of that I found the many ways a nanny can support children’s social development. Children are not meant to be kept home and indoors. They are meant to take adventures and learn from the world around them. Here are a few examples of outings a nanny can bring children on to provide social opportunities!
Local Library Storytime and Playgroups
We found that going to the library was the best way to socialize with children. It is a calm, welcoming environment. The storytimes and other activities are usually broken up by age. This is a great way for your child to play and interact with other children in a different setting than home. Taking direction from the Librarian, such as engaging in finger-play songs, is a great social skill to practice for school as it shows you can cooperate with others. Additionally, the library is a great place for children to meet friends that are local, leading to playdates.
Not only is the playground a great place for your children to use their imagination and play with others, but it also allows for fresh air and exercise. That is a win for all! When hiring a nanny be sure to give her information about all the great playgrounds in your area. You can meet friends at the park or make new friends!
Playgrounds offer unstructured play, which in turn gives children the chance to have social interactions with open-ended communication. Children will have the opportunity to practice social skills such as: taking turns, respecting personal space, imaginative pretend play, and more. It is your job as the caregiver to help foster positive peer experiences. Be sure to stay near the children to help them learn how to join in on play, resolve conflicts, and be a playmate yourself.
Group Enrichment Classes
Check out if your local rec. center offers classes such as music, gymnastics, art, or even team sports like soccer. Both Hill House in Boston and Little Lovage Club have endless classes to choose from! In these classes children will have opportunities to explore learning through their senses in addition to interacting with peers of a similar age. Children will bounce around to different activities and practice social skills in scenarios such as passing a ball in the welcome circle, waiting for their turn on the trampoline, or asking for the red paint to be passed.
Engage in Play with Peers
Playdates are a must in the nanny community. With the parents’ permission, nannies can set up playdates with kids of a similar age. However, putting children together in a room isn’t enough to build social skills. Nannies need to help children learn how to engage with friends, keeping in mind what is developmentally appropriate.
Be a Playmate and a Teacher
As a childcare provider you play many roles: teacher, mediator, playmate, photographer. For young children you may have to start the play, showing how far our imagination can roll. Did you know we can have a toy store in our playroom, or can pick apples in the ball pit? Adults are easy playmates because we help extend the play further, share well, and follow all the child’s direction. When having a playdate, caregivers need to help children mediate conflicts, see how both their ideas can be combined into the play, and provide play ideas/activities. Role modeling social skills on playdates will allow children to feel confident trying it out on their own.
Parallel vs. Cooperative Play
Parallel play is common for ages 18-30 months old. It is when two children are playing the same thing, but side by side. They notice what each other are doing, but don’t engage with one another. Whereas cooperative play is developmentally appropriate for ages 3 and up. This is when a child shows interest in others’ activities and engages with his peers in play. When a child has just turned three, he may start by observing and only occasionally joining in the play. it is your job as a caregiver to help the children learn how to move toward cooperative play.
As children grow, they will be expected to work together. This is an important social skill we all use through adulthood. It is hoped that children see teamwork helps you get ahead faster and that two heads are better than one. So when they are young, caregivers should encourage teamwork. “How,” you ask? Pretend play is an easy way for children to collaborate their ideas. They cannot play family without a peer. You can also plan a scavenger hunt with one list to work on together. Children will show excitement as they each check off items on the list. Another idea is a group game, such as parachute, team obstacle course, or a cooperative board game.
What is Socially Acceptable?
A child won’t tell you, but they actually like rules. Rules are boundaries that make a child feel secure. In larger group settings, like a daycare or school, there are rules. Practice simple rules so when not at home a child is able to follow social norms, such as cleaning up after yourself and taking turns. Saying please and thank you is an example of unspoken rules. These are social skills that are learned over time through role modeling. They can be practiced with the nanny, siblings, and peers at a playdate.
Nannies Offering Social Skill Development
Hiring a nanny can be very beneficial for not only your child, but your whole family. Be sure during the interview process to discuss the importance of providing opportunities to practice social skills. Having a nanny is convenient and comforting for your child. There will be lots of one-on-one time as well as socialization, giving them an incredible childhood. Reach out to Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny if you are interested in finding a professional nanny to support your child’s growth and development. Check out our online class, Encouraging Curiosity & Learning Through Play to learn more about combining play and education, including activities to try out.