So I've been ruminating about this for a few weeks and keep going back and forth about whether I should be worried or not... I'm hoping some of you might weigh in and offer reassurance or advice.
DD1 is almost four. She goes to preschool 5 days a week. Up until 1 month ago it was a full day 9-3:30 or so (she switched to half days since I'm on maternity leave but the afternoon is nap, snack and unstructured play). The class is 14 kids all the same 1/2 year age. And she was with the same group of kids last year. She loves her teachers, likes her school friends and is VERY happy in the class.
A few weeks ago we got her assessment (as prep for the parent teacher conference). The assessment (and conference) focused in great detail on the fact that DD does not voluntarily engage in collaborative play with the other children. She will approach a child and ask them to play when her teacher tells her to and she will comfortably play alongside other children. She also happily engages in conversations, collaborative problem solving, and group activities with her classmates. But, if left to her own choice, during unstructured play time she consistently chooses to either talk with her teachers (in an in-depth conversation about events, class activities, a book they read, etc...) or play out an imaginary scenario with toys by herself.
Her teachers regard this as a problem and suggest that it will lead to future problems where she will be unable to make friends as she gets older, will be left out or bullied or something.
Her teachers, DH and I agree that the disinterest in playing with others is due to a) her temperment (she's reserved and cautious, she always thinks through the consequences before she acts); b) her stubborness (my word) in sticking with the game she already laid out and not wanting someone to change her plans; c) her advanced cognitive skills. Her teachers suggest that it is also due to a lack of confidence. I don't agree with this part... but I do think she hates the unpredictability of kids who act before they speak and finds them stressful. She's also very concerned about following the rules of school.
As I said, I keep going back and forth worrying about this and wondering how much I should worry. On the one hand, a year ago she didn't even want to sit next to another kid to play. At the start of the year, she wouldn't approach another kid even at the teachers request. So, there's huge progress. I also think that as kids get more articulate she'll have more fun playing with them because they too can engage in elaborate games of pretend that are primarily done through talking.
On the other hand, I wonder if I'm being dismissive of a problem because I can relate to it so easily. DD is very similar to me. And, therefore I tend to say she's doing great, she's a terrific kid and she'll be ok making friends all because I was. Still, as an introvert, I can appreciate the awkwardness of social situations and the anxiety that sometimes came along with being the odd one out. DH is not concerned. He thinks the teachers have to highlight something where there is a deficiency because of how the forms and conferences are structured.
But, if there is a problem, I have no idea what else I can do to help her at this point. We do play dates as often as possible to facilitate her making friends. She's warm toward (almost) all the kids. We talk in great detail about school and her school friends (her teacher may have suggested that she thinks we all talk about things too much!) Each day I ask who she played with and what they did. So, I'm not really sure what else I can do to help her with this. I feel like we just need to allow her to be herself... But then I start to worry again!
What do you think? Is this a problem or is she too young to be worrying about this? Any ideas of books I could read to help me contextualize her development?
Thanks in advance... I know this was long and I appreciate you reading it!