ASK THE EXPERTS

How can I help my child make friends?

By Dr. Ruth Jacoby, Educational Consultant

Question:

There doesn't seem to be much supervision on the playground at lunch recess. As a parent of a fairly shy girl, how much can I expect the school to help her make social transitions into play on the schoolyard? In what ways do schools physically help first-graders with social skills, specifically at recess?

Answer:

Since your child is shy and you are worried, contact the teacher and ask for a conference. At this meeting, come prepared with a list of your questions and concerns so you don't leave out anything.

Stress to the teacher that your main area of concern is your daughter's shyness, especially when it comes to making friends. Tell her that you would appreciate any suggestions and input she may have, and ask her how she might encourage your daughter to become friends with some of her classmates at recess. You may ask her to buddy up your daughter with a peer who has similar interests and personalities while they are at recess, and maybe during group project time in the classroom.

Ask the teacher if there is a special student your daughter seems to like and if it is possible for them to exchange phone numbers so that you can set a play-date after school. This may encourage an outside-of-school friendship.

Remember to thank the teacher after the meeting for assisting you and your daughter, and to ask her to keep you posted on how things are going. You may want to request a follow-up conference date just to have a short chat about the progress your daughter is making.

Dr. Ruth Jacoby has been involved in education for more than 30 years as an educator, principal and currently as an educational consultant in Florida. She is the co-author of the School Talk! Success Series including Parent Talk!: The Art of Effective Communication With the School and Your Child, Homework Talk!: The Art of Effective Communication About Your Child's Homework and Test Talk!: Understanding the Stakes and Helping Your Children Do Their Best.

Advice from our experts is not a substitute for professional diagnosis or treatment from a health-care provider or learning expert familiar with your unique situation. We recommend consulting a qualified professional if you have concerns about your child's condition.