Family Living

Teach & Practice Friendship in Chicago

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Teaching your children how to be good friends starts with you — their parent or guardian. At an early age, kids look up to their closest caregivers as role models. They closely watch how you interact with family, friends and coworkers, and in turn, mimic your actions. To further prepare them, explain how to be a good friend — maybe even read some books that display positive relationships like the classic Frog and Toad series by Arnold Lobel.

Positive friendships are extremely important and benefit health, behavior and communication. It’s important for children to experience other relationships outside of your family and neighborhood. These relationships can be found at The Gardner School or by participating in community activities around Chicago (or both, if you’re a real overachiever)!

Read how building relationships at an early age begins in preschool here. There are great opportunities in Chicago to help kids discover and master new activities and knowledge while practicing making friends. It’s important these life skills be developed at an early age, so it comes naturally as they grow older. Below are a few options (but not all) for new adventures you and your little ones can go on!

CacoonCare is a wellness center for moms, babies and kids with classes like Away We Play, which dedicates time for moms and children ages 6 months to 3 years to meet others. Participants can also drop in on Bollywood Dance for ages 3-5, which allows kids to socialize together while discovering Indian culture and traditions!

This museum knows how to create just the right exhibits for different age groups. The CCM has special infant and crawler play areas and Treehouse Trails, Kids Town and Pritzker Playspace for young children. It’s a fun-filled environment to bond with families and new friends.

Take a creative break and join one of the many children’s classes for various age groups. Early childhood classes such as Blue, Yellow and Green were created so children can learn about color, painting, sculpting, sketching and more in age-appropriate environments. Color Wheel also offers open studio time — unconstructed fun for families and friends to create together.

Cooking isn’t just for adults! This school teaches and empowers people of all ages to cook, eat and love healthy food. Their tot program (ages 2-3) allows your toddlers to a have hands-on experience in the kitchen with a caregiver. As little ones learn about wholesome ingredients, they also develop wholesome ways to befriend others!

This beautiful zoo near the lakefront offers toddlers the chance to interact with both kids their age and fury friends! Activities include Sing Along with Neeleeo featuring animal songs, joyful dancing and playful learning with kids 6 and under. And, you can join Explore and Play, which is a sensory-rich play space for children and their caretakers to explore the natural world together.