One of the greatest contributors to a child’s happiness at school, indeed for happiness in life, is friendship. Talking with children about their day at school will more than likely contain some reference to their friends; who they played with, who they didn’t, who was absent, who was mean. If they felt sad during the day it was possibly because someone wouldn’t play, wouldn’t let them play, or was mean.
Getting along with others seems to come naturally to some children, especially to those who see positive social skills modelled by parents and family friends, who are given lots of opportunities to mix with others of all ages, and who are encouraged to express themselves and their feelings. Other children don’t find it so easy, sometimes due to lack of positive role models, but often for other reasons.
Most children require some explicit teaching from time to time, for example to share, take turns and to use friendly words. Many schools incorporate the development of friendship skills into their programs. Some schools, such as one that employed me to write and teach a friendship skills program in years one to three, develop their own programs. Other schools use published materials such as the excellent You Can Do It! program which teaches the social and emotional skills of getting along, organisation, persistence, confidence and resilience.
In the early childhood classrooms of my previous school, we used the songs, puppets and stories included in the You Can Do It! Program. We also involved children in role play and discussion, providing them with opportunities to learn the language and practice the skills in supportive and non-threatening situations. Having a common language with which to discuss feelings, concerns and acceptable responses meant issues were more easily dealt with. More importantly children learned strategies for developing positive relationships and friendships with others. They came to understand their own responses as well as those of others.
I have talked about friendship in many previous posts, including here, here and here. My online friend Anne Goodwin, who blogs at Annecdotal, even wrote about it in a guest post here, and I described friendship trees that I used with my class here.
In this post I want to acknowledge a new friend and a long-time friend. (I can’t say ‘old’. She’s younger than I!)
My new friend is Pauline, The Contented Crafter. At the beginning of last week Pauline announced a very generous giveaway for Christmas which I shared with you here. Pauline invited readers to nominate someone as a deserving recipient of her beautiful Christmas light catcher. She posted the nominees and their stories here and invited readers to vote for the two they would most like to receive the light catcher.
I nominated Robin, a friend of over thirty years. That must be deserving of an award in itself! In case you missed her story on Pauline’s blog, I include it here so that you can understand why I value her friendship so highly.
I have a wonderful friend for whom this beautiful light catcher would be a perfect gift. Each of its strands holds a special significance, as if Pauline had her in mind.
She gifted her friendship to me more than thirty years ago and, thanks to a miracle and the protection of angels, it is a gift that continues.
Over twenty years ago, on my birthday, she was involved in a serious car accident. My birthday became her life day, a constant reminder that life and each passing year is a precious gift.
Her many injuries, requiring numerous surgeries over the years, did not injure her bright, cheerful nature and positive outlook on life. Although she lives with constant pain you wouldn’t know unless you asked, and then only if she chose to tell you.
She has an enormous generous and loving heart, and her home is warm and welcoming. Family, especially her two grown daughters and her dear Mum who passed this year, is important to her. She loves to bake and craft individual gifts for her family and friends. She is always busily thinking of others.
She is a gifted musician and amazing music teacher. She plays the flute and sings like a Robin. She incorporates music and fun into classes for children and lessons for adults learning English. All come to her classes eager to learn and leave singing with joy and acceptance.
At Christmas the family gather round to decorate the tree and “remember the moments” marked by ornaments made by smaller hands, collected on travels, or signifying achievements and occasions like graduations and engagements.
I know my friend would treasure this beautiful light catcher as another reminder of life’s precious gifts and moments that make it magic. Thank you Pauline for the opportunity to express openly how much I value her friendship.
You can find out more about Robin on her website and even purchase her wonderful CD “Notes from Squire Street”.
I am very excited to say that Robin is included in Pauline’s list of winners. In fact Pauline’s generosity is being extended to many of the nominees, and even to one for commenting on the post. Very soon Pauline’s light catchers will be dispersing rainbow light of friendship and joy around the world. I think that is a beautiful and generous gesture.
Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.