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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Focus on Fostering: Play Planner Squares

Last Tuesday and Thursday I wrote about the challenges of friends and developing friendships. I promised to explain the "Play Planner" to help facilitate successful friends time. After you have followed the steps from last Tuesday you will have some ideas for activities that could be successful and enjoyed by both kids.  Before the friend comes over for the playtime sit down with your child to make a play planner.

1. Divide a paper into 4 squares and number them 1-4.

2. Draw a stick figure saying "Hello" to a second stick figure.  Put a smile on the first stick figure! If the child is young you can just do their face saying "Hi!"
Talk about how friends come to the door to say hello when a friend comes to play. Depending on the age and abilities of your child you might even talk about some other possible things to say or ask as greetings. [The lines by the hand are supposed to indicate waving hello... clearly artistic expertise is not necessary!]

3. Draw a stick figure saying "Goodbye" or "Come back soon" or something similar to the second figure.  Both figures should have smiles now to show that both had a good time.  Talk about how friends show their friends to the door to say good bye when the friend comes to play. Talk about how saying "Thank you for coming." or "I hope you can come back again." or something like that is especially nice.

Now comes the essence of the planner... boxes 2 and 3.
Decide with your child on two -four activities that they would like to do during the time their friend is over.  Have the child pick their two favorites.

4.  Draw a picture [or glue a picture] of one of the activities in box 2.
This is one for one of my girls. [Those are dolls, not shrunken people!]

5. Draw a picture [or glue a picture] of one of the other activities in box 3.
Again one from my girls. Sometimes a tea party is with imaginary food, sometimes food they make, sometimes food I make. We would decide before the play visit which kind it was.

A completed 4-Square Play Plan [this one for my boys]

You now have a 4-square Play Plan that your child can follow and feel in control of what is going to happen.  Your child has participated in the planning, you can review it before the guest comes, and he/she can refer to it during the visit... you can even review it afterwards to see his/her perspective on how the visit went.

Option: Draw an extra,  little picture in box 2 and box 3 of their other two ideas as "back-up plans"

Give it a try. Adapt however you want.  Take photos of the kids playing that you can use in later 4-Squares in place of stick figures.  Have fun with it. Increase the number of blocks as they get more comfortable with friends.  Let me know if it is helpful... it was helpful for my crew.

P.S. Thanks for being patient with the late post!

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