Of course, that doesn't mean that you have to enroll them in preschool or anything...that would be waaay overboard. Their need for that kind of stimulation can be easily satisfied just by letting them watch little kids play for a while every day (down at the park or something) and by playing with friends' kids. They don't even have to be near the same age to get a lot out of it. My kids really enjoyed the church nursery at that age (yes, they really did, they didn't cry when we got there but got all excited, it was soooo cute) and I think that this really satisfied that curiosity for them.
Interaction comes in many forms; remember that. Staring at each other across a sandbox is the same whether it is done at the neighborhood park or in a daycare.
I don't think he'll be an outcast if you don't institutionalize him right away. That is one of those American Myths. I mean, what, is he going to become some kind of basket case? Are the kids he goes to kindergarden with all going to know and not talk to him? Of course not!
So, that's what I think :-)
Mama, homeschooler, midwife. DD (13yo), DS (11yo), DD (8yo), DD (3yo), somebody new coming in November 2013.
We also recently enrolled her in a parent & tots gymnastics class (based on her interests) once a week. The way I see it if she wants to make friends she will, if not that's okay too. She'll let me know what she needs if I provide opportunities & listen to her.
Some kids start being social at much earlier ages than others. Last year when my dd was in preschool at age 3, she still played alone or with the teachers most of the time, while a lot of the other kids seemed to interact with each other. This year, age 4, however, her friends are very important to her!
She's now 2 and has a best friend who's 2 mos. younger than her. They get along great and she asks for him by name when they are not together. She also has an older friend, age 3, and a couple younger friends who are around 18 mos. old. She interacts differently with each of them, depending on their ages and personalities. It's neat to see her adjust her behavior according to the social situation even at the young age of 26 mos. They seem to get a pecking order going. In some situations she's a bit aggressive, and in other situations she's submissive.
While I think it's important to try to get your child together with other kids, the best social interaction you can give your child is with his/her own family members. Only then will the child be confident enough to make friends of their own age.
I've also noticed that my dd will only be able to play with one other child at a time even in a larger group setting. So it's probably not that important yet to get the group thing going, as much as just one or two friends at a time.
My dd is VERY social, and is now in a class/ playgroup for 2-year-olds (think Gymboree, but cheaper and offered by park district). She will go right up to another kid and sit down next to them, look interested in what they're doing, etc., but the kids tend to grab their toys possessively and back away. : She's getting good at getting their attention with games, though -- chase, play kitchen, etc. I think it's been really important for her to have these socialization opportunities for the last 4 to 6 months especially, but going back to when she was about a year old.
Yes, i think that it is a good time to start them in small groups, with their moms.
By the way, we certainly made up for time because we now go to a mommy and me class, yoga for toddlers, music together...we go to the park all the time plus story areas at a local bookstore.
Sometimes I feel like he is on a cruise ship and I'm the cruise director. But I just like him to get out of the house in the morning and the late afteroon. He is a very active boy. Adn by the way, he is picky. There are some kids he instantly 'take's to and the rest he just kind of blows off. I don't think it is personal, I just think it is the age.
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An infant/toddler can get that same healthy social interaction with others of any age, they can play with other older and younger children and adults of all ages.
My youngest is three, she does not need to have classes or regular playdates in order to learn to play & interact with others and her natural friendships are with a wide group of people. The same goes with my oldest who is 14, his friends range in age from 3 to 80. To me that is normal.
IMVHO A group of 1-2 yrs olds in a directed play setting seems unnatural and unneeded.