ideas for teaching friendship skills in early childhood classrooms

readilearn: Learning to be friends – unleash your friendship superpower

Sometimes we expect that all we have to do for children to make friends is to put them in close proximity to other children. We may see it happen at the park, in a playground, in a shopping centre, at school. Children are attracted to other children, but it is not always easy for them to make friends. We should no more expect them to get along than we would expect adults thrown together at a party, conference or other social situation to become friends immediately.

While some children are gregarious and will talk to anyone, others may be more introverted and less inclined to make the first move. But whether extrovert or introvert, children need to learn how to interact with others in ways that encourage friendships to be made. The development of social-emotional skills, including empathy or understanding how others feel, is an important part of becoming a friend.

Make friendship skills lessons an ongoing part of your program

Lessons in how to be a friend need to be an ongoing part of any class program. While many teachers allocate some time for getting to know each other at the beginning of the school year, it is important to maintain the focus throughout the year. As children mature and interact with others, they will encounter a greater variety of situations with which they need to deal.

It is not always necessary to timetable or set up specific lessons. Sometimes the spontaneous discussions before and after break times can help highlight needs and alert you to who is having trouble in the playground. These focused incident-specific discussions can help resolve issues and prevent them from escalating.

As new children enter the class, they also need to be introduced and made to feel welcome and included. It is important for the introductions to go both ways. New children have many others to get to know; the existing class members have only one, and it may be difficult for a new child to settle into established groups. It is necessary to establish procedures that will help a child settle while more permanent friendships are being formed. For example, friendship buddies could be allocated to show the child around and help them become familiar with school routines and behaviour expectations.

Establish a supportive classroom environment

One of the best ways of ensuring that children feel friendly towards each other is by establishing a supportive classroom environment in which children have a sense of belonging, feel respected and valued.

Previous posts about establishing a supportive classroom environment include Establishing a supportive classroom environment from day one. A search of resources using the words ‘supportive classroom’ will bring up a list of other related posts and resources.

Continue reading: readilearn: Learning to be friends – unleash your friendship superpower

13 thoughts on “readilearn: Learning to be friends – unleash your friendship superpower

  1. cynthiahm

    Making children feel welcome is so important. And the most giant leaps in learning come from real incidents and interactions on the playground. Have you heard of the friendship bench? Anyone who is looking for a friend can go and sit there. That way others know they are looking for a play mate. Good post, Norah.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you for adding your words of wisdom to the post, Cynthia. I have heard of the friendship bench, but never used it. It’s a good suggestion to add to the list.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Patricia Tilton

    Excellent post. I could have used this great advice and resources when my daughter was young. She had a hearing impairment and wore hearing aids, was loud and wasn’t well coordinated and was in physical therapy.. So she stood out and not all kids wanted to play with her. Thankfully she did have a best friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Norah Post author

      I’m so pleased your daughter had a best friend who accepted her for who she was, Patricia. It breaks your heart when you see your little ones being left out or hurt, doesn’t it? It is great when children learn to accept difference and appreciate the heart within.


  3. karenwrites19

    Hi Norah,
    Great blog, Great advice on super friendship powers.
    Everyone will LOVE your resources …
    Karen Tyrrell AKA Song Bird Superhero

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Norah Post author

      Hi Karen,
      Thank you so much for your kind words. I appreciate them especially coming from a superhero author.
      I hope teachers do find the resources useful. 🙂



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