Building Social Skills: Pre-School Playground Etiquette


Social skills typically start to develop in the playground. For young kids, this is the place where they learn to be with others. As they learn to interact with others, the foundation of a child’s personality is built.

When it comes to social skills, the earlier kids learn them, the better. And where better to learn them than at the playground? Here, children learn to communicate, share, and understand the nuances of human interaction. That’s why progressive early learning centres emphasise hands-on and play-based learning.

The importance of playground etiquette

More than just a set of rules, playground etiquette is a guide to developing interactions among young children. Playground etiquette can also create a safe and positive environment for children to play.

Playground etiquette helps teach children to develop the following:

  • Interaction with others in a social setting

Playgrounds are busy places. Here, children of all ages and backgrounds come together to play. The playground allows them to learn how to share, take turns, and resolve conflict peacefully.

  • Empathy and compassion

Children learn to see things from other people’s perspectives when playing together in playgrounds. They understand how their actions affect others by playing together. This helps them to develop empathy and compassion.

  • Cooperation and teamwork

Playground activities often require children to work together to achieve a common goal. Through these activities, they learn the importance of cooperation and teamwork.

  • Self-confidence and self-esteem

Learning new skills like climbing to the top of the jungle gym or going down the slide by themselves can boost their self-confidence and self-esteem.

Playground etiquette also helps to prepare children for the social and emotional challenges they’ll face in school and the workplace.

Basic playground rules every child should know

The playground rules may sound simple, but they lay the groundwork for a lifetime of positive interactions and mutual respect.

Some of these playground rules are the following:

  • Waiting for their turn for swings and sides

Just as we wait in line at the grocery stores, children learn the value of patience and fairness when they wait for their turn. For instance, seeing the joy on another child’s face as they slide down can make the wait worthwhile.

  • No pushing or shoving

A playground is a place of fun, not fear. While kids might engage in a little horseplay, kids should understand that pushing and shoving can hurt others. Learning about physical boundaries and the importance of kindness starts with a simple rule like this.

  • Using polite language

Encouraging children to use phrases like ‘please,’ ‘thank you,’ or ‘May I?’ is a good start to turn potential conflicts into constructive conversations. Imagine a kid asking, ‘May I play with you?’ instead of grabbing a toy. Such polite interactions can be the start of a friendship among kids.

  • Respecting personal space

Just as adults value their personal space, children, too, need theirs. Recognising and respecting this space ensures everyone feels safe and respected.

Simple rules such as these can create a harmonious playground environment. But perhaps the most important thing these rules teach them is empathy, which will help them learn how to understand and value what others feel.


Building social skills in the playground

Playgrounds are essential in any after-school program. They’re good for the children’s physical fitness but offer much more. In the playground, kids learn to work together, play fair, solve problems, and understand others. These lessons, once learned, can help build the foundation for a happy, well-adjusted adult.

Below are tips on how to teach social skills on the playground:

  • Make playgrounds for all

Playgrounds are for every kid. No matter their gender, race, age, or skill. If some can’t use the equipment, bring more. If they play a game, it should be for everyone. This way, they learn to be good to each other.

  • Speak kindly

A high five or a ‘Well done’ can change a kid’s day. Acknowledge them when they do good, like, ‘That was a great kick!’ Let them see you do it, so they’ll do it too. When they cheer for each other, they feel they belong. And that helps in class.

  • Step in when needed

Playgrounds can be wild. Sometimes, kids fight or say mean things. Some might feel left out. Watch for this. If you see trouble, warn them. If they don’t listen, give them a moment alone. They should know the playground is safe and no bad behaviour is okay.

  • Let them solve small problems

Kids will argue, like about who slides first or who leads the team. Let them solve it, maybe with Rock, Paper, and Scissors. They need to learn this by themselves.

  • Play with them

Some kids are shy. They want to play but can’t start. Join them. Turn the jump rope. Throw the dodgeball. When you play, they see they matter. And it’s more than just fun – it makes them trust you more.


Early social skills are an investment. They shape children, guiding them into adulthood with grace and understanding. These lessons learned on the playground stay with them, influencing careers, relationships, and personal growth.

Of course, the parents’ role is pivotal in developing a child’s social skills. Being there may not be enough, though; it’s vital to be involved too. Your guidance turns these playground lessons into lifelong virtues. Your child’s future self will thank you.

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