While none of these events have ‘friendship’ in their title, that to me is what it all comes down to: acceptance, kindness and friendship. It is sad to see how difficult it can be to attain on a personal, local, national and international level. We must all do what we can to make the world a happier place through inclusion and respect.
Here at readilearn, friendship skills have always been a focus. We have over twenty resources to support the teaching of friendship skills. They can all be found under the heading ‘Friendship Skills’ in the resources for Character Development.
These are just a few of the readilearn friendship skills lessons and resources:
Busy Bees ABC of friendship is an alphabet of words that can be used to stimulate discussion about what a friend is and what friends do.Each letter has a word and accompanying explanatory statement on its own chart. The entire alphabet is also available on one printable chart. It could be used for a bingo-type card on which children colour the box for each letter as they do something appropriate to the word.
Be friends not bullies provides suggestions for teaching children friendship skills. It teaches them to identify the differences between friendly and unfriendly behaviour, to recognise bullying and to provide strategies for dealing with bullying that they may encounter personally or as an onlooker.
The resource includes:
a story stimulus with suggestions for presentation and discussion
Next Friday 30 July is the International Day of Friendship. One of the aims of the International Day of Friendship is to foster a culture of peace through education. It is “based on the recognition of the relevance and importance of friendship as a noble and valuable sentiment in the lives of human beings around the world”.
Some children find it easy to make friends. Others may find it a little more difficult. While some of us enjoy time on our own, there’s no denying that days are often brighter with friends. This is especially true of children at school. Without a friend to play with, children can feel left out and alone. They may feel they don’t belong and begin to think ‘What’s wrong with me?’ Having a friend or two can influence how they feel about attending school and impact the whole school experience.
The establishment of a welcoming and supportive classroom in which all children have a sense of belonging is essential and underpins a great year of learning and teaching for all involved. Part of that classroom is the social dynamics and friendship groups. They don’t always form naturally and, especially when some friendship groups are already established, newcomers may have difficulty being accepted when they try to fit in.
Here at readilearn, we have a variety of lessons, activities and teaching resources to assist the teaching of friendship skills in your classroom. They can all be found in the Friendship Skills collection in the section Character Development.
Getting to know each other
Getting to know you surveys are a great way for teachers and children to get to know each other at the beginning of the year, and support the establishment of a welcoming, supportive environment in which individuals are respected and appreciated. Topics to survey are limited only by your imagination. With the incidental development of literacy and mathematical skills, they make an all-round great introduction to school.
Me and my friends Children interview their friends to find out ways in which they are similar and how they differ from each other
As children get to know each other, they come to realise that they have some characteristics in common and some that differ. Those characteristics do not make them better or worse. They make them who they are.
Me and My Buddy is a great activity for your children’s first session with their buddy class.
Children interview their buddies to find out more about them and discuss ways in which they and their buddies are similar and different.
The UN International Day of Friendship on 30 July promotes friendship between peoples, countries, cultures and individuals in order to inspire peace and build bridges between communities.
Education has an important role in fostering friendships at a grassroots level that can transform communities both small and large. We begin by developing respect, understanding and empathy among students in our classrooms and schools and reaching out to others in our local, national and international communities.
The basis for developing friendships in the classroom is the establishment of a supportive classroom environment in which everyone is welcomed and respected. It means that we, as a class, teachers and children, get to know each other and learn to appreciate our similarities and value our differences.
Establish a supportive classroom environment
I have suggested strategies for establishing a supportive classroom environment in previous posts, including:
As we step into March, here in the Southern Hemisphere, we are looking forward to some cooler weather and a reprieve from summer’s heat as autumn begins. In the Northern Hemisphere, many will be looking forward to springtime and warmer days.
Things to do in March
Regardless of your location, March is a good time for discussing the seasons and observing changes in the environment.
Records might include observations of changes in:
plants (remember this is the International Year of Plant Health so add that to your discussions)
the weather including temperature
their own activities
the clothing they wear
the foods they eat
Records could be made using photographs, artworks (including drawing, painting, collage) and words.
The first of March is Clean up Australia Day. The website provides useful information to assist each of us to be proactive in eliminating waste and reducing pollution. Each section in helping us to ‘Clean Up Our Waste’ explains the problem and suggests actions we can take. Whether large or small, every action makes a difference. Why not encourage your students to employ positive actions for the environment.
The website also lists ways individuals, schools and communities can become involved in cleaning up Australia on Sunday 1 March. (Clean Up Schools Day is today, 28 February.)
Today, I am talking with author Pamela Wight about her new picture book Molly Finds Her Purr. I previously introduced you to Pamela when her first picture book Birds of Paradise was released in 2017. You can read that interview here.
The importance of being true to yourself and the acknowledgment of the strength of friendship, even when differences exist, are strong themes in Pamela’s books.
Birds of Paradise is a delightful story of two sparrows Bert and Bessie who discover that friendship can unite even for two with very different attitudes to life.
In Molly Finds Her Purr, Molly the cat discovers that a purr comes from finding a circle of friends, and that friendship can be strong despite their outward differences.
Both books are beautifully illustrated by Shelley Steinle who has added a secret character for children to find on every page.
I am delighted that some of my words of praise for Birds of Paradise were used on the back cover of Molly Finds Her Purr. I wrote, “Shelly Steinle’s illustrations are gorgeous and perfectly complement Pamela Wight’s lovely story.” I could say exactly the same in praise of Molly Finds Her Purr.
A little about Pamela Wight
Pamela S. Wight writes fiction for children and adults. She is the published author of The Right Wrong Man and Twin Desires, and pens a popular weekly blog called Roughwighting (roughwighting.net). She teaches creative writing classes in the Boston and San Francisco areas. Her first picture book, Birds of Paradise, published in 2017, was a finalist in the 2018 International Book Awards.
For more than one day, I have thought about what to write. I was drawn by the theme of empathy, of walking in someone else’s shoes, of being able to see oneself through the eyes of another, or of having the opportunity to heal past wounds, for one day. But I couldn’t quite get it. It was elusive, until I came across this video of Chris Rosati.
Chris Rosati decided that what he wanted to do most with his life was spread kindness. It led me to consider what the world might be like if, for one day, everyone of us, wherever we are, put aside our differences and spread kindness. Perhaps then, we wouldn’t need to walk in the shoes of another, see ourselves as others see us, or heal old wounds. Kindness would prevail.
It started slowly. First an outbreak in a school in central Australia, barely newsworthy. Then another in South America. A post on social media drew a few views but was largely ignored. When a third occurred in Western Europe, reports flooded news services. Soon, small isolated pockets erupted on every continent, and they multiplied and spread. The touch of a hand, a pat on a shoulder, the nod of a head, a brush of lips, the trace of a smile; all were infectious. The contagion was rampant. Random acts of kindness proliferated, and unbridled bursts of joy exploded everywhere.
Teaching friendship skills was always a big part of my classroom practice and many of the lessons I develop for the readilearn collection of teaching resources for the first three years of school also focus on the development of friendship skills; including:
In the first week of February, celebrations include World Read Aloud Day, Children’s Mental Health Week and Chinese New Year.
Readilearn has lessons ready to assist you with each of these celebrations.
World Read Aloud Day
First up is World Read Aloud Day on 1 February—today! The day aims to encourage people everywhere to “read aloud together and share stories to advocate for literacy as a human right that belongs to all people“.
Perhaps no one knows better than teachers of young children the importance of reading aloud. Children who come to school having been read to at home have the advantage of more extensive vocabularies and proficiency with language, greater general knowledge and interest in the world around them, and an interest in books and learning. These advantages contribute to success in school and life.
Making time for reading aloud in a busy class program is a priority for teachers of children in their first three years of school. Opportunities occur in every subject area, and it is not difficult to find ways of working a few extra stories into the program. Why not use World Read Aloud Day as an excuse to read a few more books than usual (as if an excuse is needed).
If you are unsure where to start selecting, visit the library and ask the librarian for suggestions, or take the class with you and ask them to each choose a book they’d like to hear.
With today 16 March being the National Day Against Bullying and Violence and next Wednesday 21 March being Harmony Day in Australia, now is a good time to think about what it means to be a friend, what bullying is, and how to combat it. Of course, any time is a great time for developing friendship skills, but these special days help to raise awareness.
The purpose of the National Day Against Bullying and Violence is fairly clear in its title. Harmony Day is for celebrating cultural diversity. “It’s about inclusiveness, respect and a sense of belonging for everyone.” That sounds very much like friendship to me.
The development of social skills, including the friendship skills of getting along, can not be left to chance. The skills must be actively encouraged and taught. Children must learn what behaviour is friendly, what is not friendly and what is bullying.
The teaching of these skills and behaviours should not be left to one or two days of the year but integrated into the teaching program. In fact, the best way to encourage friendship and discourage bullying is through the implementation of policies that foster respect and accept
What many children look most forward to about school is playtime with their friends.
Learning how to be a friend, and how to make friends, is an essential ingredient in an early childhood classroom. Children’s socio-emotional development is perhaps more important than any other as their future happiness and success will depend upon it. Happy kids learn more easily than unhappy kids.
This week at the Carrot RanchCharli Mills expresses her admiration for the raptors that “wheel on currents of air high above the La Verkin Overlook” near her new home in Utah. She marvels in their flight and challenges writers to let their imaginations take wing and soar.
Narelle Oliver’s beautiful picture book Home, which I wrote about in this post, celebrates one of these Australian raptors, the peregrine falcon. The book is based on a true story of a pair of peregrine falcons that nested at the top of a 27-storey building in Brisbane city. The birds, named Frodo and Frieda, fascinated a city and, for a while, had their own reality show “Frodocam”.
As often occurs, my thoughts head off in a different direction when thinking of Charli’s prompt. Rather than the beauty and magnificence of these amazing birds, it was the word “prey” that grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. It pummelled me into submission, like a bully that seeks out the vulnerable when targeting prey.
It is probably a good thing that these dates don’t align, as there is no time that is not a good time to eradicate bullying.
I have previously written about bullying in posts and flash fiction stories, especially those concerning Marnie, about whom I wrote several stories, collected here. Stories about bullying specifically include these:
In this post, I shared information about a rap version of “True Colours” with additional original anti-bullying content written by 12-year-oldMattyB to support his younger sister who is excluded and bullied because of her “symptoms”. Here is the song. Check back to the post for more information.
In this post, I suggested that children who tease, torment and bully are often themselves victims of similar behaviour. They may feel powerless and lack control in their own lives. They are possibly lowest in the pecking order at home, and targeting someone more vulnerable provides an opportunity to find a sense of power; for a while at least.
One of the most effective ways of reducing the incidence of bullying is through the development of social-emotional skills; including helping children develop
friendship skills and
in an environment in which they feel welcome, valued, and supported.
We need to model the behaviour we want children to develop, provide them with alternatives to inappropriate behaviour, and teach them how to respond when the behaviour of others upsets them.
It is also important to teach children to recognise bullying and to seek help if they see it occurring. Observing and doing nothing is a way of condoning the behaviour, and the bullying may escalate if an audience gathers. Ignoring bullying in a way also condones it. It is important to take action to prevent or stop it.
Karen Tyrrell, “an award winning Brisbane resilience author who empowers you and your children to live strong”, has written books for both adults and children about bullying. Having been on the receiving end of bullying herself, Karen understands what it is like to be targeted.
Karen’s books STOP the Bully, for 9 to 12-year-olds and Song Bird for children of 7+ years, both explore issues related to bullying.
Karen told me that “The little boy in the photo read STOP the Bully 6 months earlier after my first book shop visit. Then found me again 6 months later to say thank you when Song Bird came out.”