Articles and Topics
It's hard to make friends when you don't speak the same language
Q: My 3 ½-year-old daughter is in preschool. We speak our native language at home, but the national language is taught in preschool. My daughter is picking the new language up slowly and has normal learning ability at school. The real problem is that she is having difficulty in playing with the group at school. During playtime, she is by herself most of the time. As a result, she cries every morning and is hesitant to go to school. How can I help her?
A: You need to make an ally of her teacher (or the director of the school). Talk with her about your daughter’s need to have someone to play and work with, and see whether she has some suggestions. Ask her if your daughter can bring a few objects from home to show the group and tell the children their names in your home language, as well as in English. The teacher can then encourage all the children to use the “new” language.

Some of the other children can also help. There will usually be one or two very secure and socially adept children in any group who will help a shy child learn how to make contacts with other children. One reason many children don’t play well with their age mates is that they don’t know how to approach the group. Since your daughter has the language barrier to cope with, it is probably extra hard for her to do this. Give her as much practice as you can by arranging informal play sessions at home with only one or two other children.