Childhood Social Activities

  • Elementary School Playgrounds

    Your family can use any of the elementary school playgrounds after school hours. These are great places to meet other neighborhood families when you are new to town.  You can also make plans to meet another family at the playground. It’s a great option because the playgrounds are free, everyone knows where they are, and it’s not a very long event if the kids don’t get along.


    Depending on your neighborhood, you might find that children don’t spontaneously play together outside. Instead, parents contact each other to set up social interactions between their kids, called “playdates.” Some parents set up playdates by chatting with each other at the bus stop. Sometimes kids decide they want to hang out and inform their parents when they get home from school, leaving you to figure out the details.  Each school publishes a directory with the names and contact information for most of the families in the school. If your child mentions making a friend in their class, you can email their parent and say, “I’m Cauã’s dad. Let’s set up a playdate with Harrison. Are you free on Friday?” 

    Some parents set end times, others are more casual. Playdates usually last 1-2 hours with younger children but could last longer as kids get older. It’s generally expected that a playdate will not cross a meal time. So if your children begin playing after school, you would pick them up before 5 or 6.

    At most playdates one child visits another family’s home and their parents leave. However, if you’re still getting to know everyone in town, there are other options. You can suggest meeting up at a school playground or at Haskell field. In those situations, both parents would stay.

    Sleepover Parties

    Starting around age 8-10 your child might be invited to a sleepover party. Sleepover parties are overnight parties for children. They are more clearly arranged than playdates, with clear start and end times.

    Parents drop children off in the evening with: pajamas, toothbrush and toothpaste, a stuffed animal, a pillow, and a sleeping bag or blanket. The host provides snacks, activities such as craft projects, usually a movie, and breakfast. Kids are high energy at sleepovers. They set up all their sleeping bags on the floor around bedtime but usually they are having far too much fun to sleep. Expect that your child will be exhausted the next day.

    If you’re not comfortable letting your child sleep at another family’s house, that’s okay. You could respond to the invitation with a polite, “I don’t think Seo-yeon is ready yet.” You could offer to let your child attend the crafts and the movie but pick them up before bedtime. Another option is offering to host the sleepover yourself, if that would be more comfortable for you. Expect a lot of giggling.

    "Sleepunder" Parties

    “Sleepunder” parties are a new trend. They are basically pretend sleepover parties. All the kids come with their pajamas and their stuffed animals and sleeping bags as if they’re going to sleep there. Yet at bedtime all the parents arrive to bring their kids home to their own beds.

    Birthday Parties

    Your child will probably get invited to a few birthday parties, especially in the younger grades when children are encouraged to invite all of their classmates. You will get a written invitation to each birthday party that details the times, location, activities, and what food will be provided. The invitations will also tell you whether they expect you to stay with your child or drop them off.

    Birthday parties are different for every family. Some families host casual parties at their homes with pizza and balloons. Other families have parties at businesses like restaurants or trampoline parks. You can ask the host family any questions you have about the party before you go. Everyone does.

    Your child is expected to bring a gift for their friend. Birthday gifts often cost $10-$30, depending on how well you know the child. Books, games, and toys are common gifts. Your child might know their friend’s preferences and it’s also okay to ask the parents for suggestions. You might ask, “What is on Ivy’s wish list?”