At seven years-old BeBe is all about sleepovers and having a friend tag along with her to the fair or park. Many of her friends are from school, and unlike preschool, I haven’t met many of their parents. We’ve realized if you want your kiddo to have a fun with their school friends you have to make connections with other parents. This is a little tricky since she attends a large public school, and each year they shuffle the classes. The friends she had last year are in a different class this year. BeBe still plays with the friends from kindergarten occasionally, but also wants to play with her new friends from first grade.
If you can volunteer at school often or do parent pick-up you have a better chance of meeting the parents of your kiddo’s friend. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work for our schedule, so I have to reach out in other ways. My old method of meeting parents at little kid’s birthday parties doesn’t work as well either because the “invite the entire class” type of parties are fading away. Families generally have a small party at this age or just do something fun with a friend. To meet the other parents then we often resort to having our kids pass notes with our phone numbers to each other. Then we text hello and compare schedules to meet up. I’m not comfortable dropping BeBe off at another kid’s house unless I’ve had a chance to get to know the parents. I typically suggest we all meet up at a park, or skating rink (if the weather is bad). This way the kids can play, and we can meet the parents.
Social media is another way to connect. Honestly, I don’t love social media, but Facebook is where all the online school groups and other parents connect. Often, I can search by last name through the school’s informal Facebook group to find a parent and message them, or at least put a face with a name. If I know a school fundraising event is coming up, I introduce myself at the event, so we can get to know each other and schedule playdates.
Another way to meet new parents is to check-in with the parents of her kindergarten friends. Chances are good these parents already know some of her new friends either from dance classes, last school year, or some other activity. Then we might host one big play date, so everyone can get to know each other. I definitely appreciate it when other parents do this.
While it’s easier for BeBe to play with kids in the neighborhood or from her sports team because I already know the families well. She’s getting to an age where she wants to play with specific friends from school, and not just have playmates like she did as a little kid. I enjoy meeting new people and the parents are always friendly and fun, but even for an extrovert like me; it’s tiring. However, I figured in another year or two we will know all the kids in the school. Seriously though, if you thought networking for professionals was a lot of work, wait until your kids are in elementary school.