Questions to Ask Before a Preschool Playdate

Whether your child attends a traditional preschool or meets same-age peers through church, story hour, or other activities, the three- to four-year-old years are a prime time for forging new friendships. While many toddlers prefer to engage in “parallel play” when in the company of other children, the preschool-aged set tends to start blossoming with more and more interactive imaginary play, cooperative puzzle solving, and multi-player game playing. Like the ones before it, it is an exciting developmental stage!


With these tender friendships emerging, many of us parents desire to facilitate things by setting up play dates. And that’s awesome! Nothing at all wrong with helping things along a little bit.


When your child finds a new little buddy and you think it’s time to invite him over to your home, here are a few critical questions to ask BEFORE the playdate:


Do you plan to be here with your child? I cannot emphasize enough the importance of this question. Some of you are undoubtedly shaking your heads and saying, “why, of course the child’s mother would be there!” But, I assure you, that’s not always the case. Lots of things, from temperament to work schedule to birth order of the child, believe it or not, will factor in to whether or not another parent will be present. It’s okay either way! Just be sure you know what to expect.


Does the child have any allergies? This is especially critical if her mother won’t be there with her (see #1), but is helpful in any case for planning purposes. Be sure to ask: 1) what, if any, allergies the child has; 2) how severe they are (some children just can’t eat something– others cannot even be around it); and 3) what to do should an allergic reaction occur. You of course want to try to avoid that #3 situation at all costs but, still, better to be prepared for any eventuality.


Where is he at when it comes to using the potty? Some preschoolers are totally, 100%, all-the-way potty-trained. Whether it’s a #1 or #2 situation, they can handle it all from start to finish. They’re probably the minority though. Many preschoolers will still need a hand with buttons, wiping, +/or re-dressing. Some may still be in diapers. Knowing the child’s needs upfront will make it simpler for everyone involved.


Does she have any precious, “off-limits” toys or loveys? It is not uncommon for preschoolers to have a stuffed animal, blanket, or toy to which they are still very attached. If at all possible, it’s usually best to leave these items at home (or tuck them away someplace if the playdate is at your house.) Just in case that’s not an option, it’s good to find out ahead of time before your daughter tries to brush her friend’s doll’s hair and a huge tantrum erupts.


Will any siblings be joining us? Again, you may think you don’t have to ask. You do. Trust me. I cannot begin to tell you how many unexpected siblings have shown up at my kids’ birthday parties. Whether or not you mind having them is up to you– but it’s best to know, even if it’s only for meal and craft planning purposes. (This is all not really applicable if there’s, say, a newborn involved.)


The preschool years are an exciting time and budding little friendships are a lovely part of that! Asking a few key questions can help make the playdate experience smooth and pleasant for everyone involved.


What do make sure to ask before a playdate?

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4 comments to Questions to Ask Before a Preschool Playdate

  • Laraba

    You are a wise mom! 2 of our children have food allergies and I’ve actually forgotten to mention it to a babysitter or 2. Ridiculous. Bad. We’ve never had a problem, partially because the girl with the moderate allergy to tree nuts is hyper about making sure that foods she eats do not have tree nuts so she polices herself. Praise God since her mama sometimes drops the ball about telling people :-).

    • I am forever amazed at how well so many children do at “self-policing” when it comes to food allergies. I certainly would never want to completely rely on that, of course, but it still impresses me. :)

  • Celine

    Asking about food allergies is a really important thing to ask and so appreciated by the parent of an allergic child. From experience they can sometimes forget to mention it because they live with it everyday and it’s just natural for them to avoid those items containing the allergen.

    It is wise to ask if the family has guns or other weapons in their house and how these items are secured. Some people might take offence to this but you cannot assume that people do not have unsecured weapons in their home around their own children. Depending on your views this might also determine what type of play date your comfortable allowing your child to attend.

    • Oh, Celine, THANK you for raising that point! It is such a good, and important, one. Yes, by all means, ask about weaponry. You just never know and I’d rather risk irritating someone for a moment than losing my child.

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