Today we come back to our “High Five for Friendships” conversation to discuss an idea that is sometimes the trickiest to wrap our minds around…
Reinforce Friendships BETWEEN Children
On the surface, this seems easy enough to do…but…
When children are friends, we encourage those relationships to flourish. That may mean allowing children the space and time to work together on shared projects or pointing out ways they are being good friends to each other. These are ideas we’ve discussed in previous posts and ones that you may be starting to use regularly.
- Thumb: Tell and show why helping children form friendships is important
- Index finger: Intentionally teach children friendship skills
So, you might be asking yourself, “What’s so different about this tip? What’s difficult to understand about that?”
To that end, we ask you to reflect on two questions: 1) In your classroom, how much time do you spend celebrating differences of children? 2) How much time do you spend celebrating the similarities between children?
One of the things we’ve noticed is young children are really good at pointing out differences. Whether it is gender, skin color, languages, or ability, children can easily spot differences between themselves and their peers.
Celebrating differences is important especially when differences may marginalize others or impact how children view their self-worth and roles in society.
Everybody’s different; it’s the fabric of our community. In our experience, teachers make significant contributions of time in their curriculum to celebrate and talk about children’s differences.
Something we see less often is time devoted to encouraging children to see their similarities. This can be troublesome since similarities are the core ingredients of friendships.
What similarities brought you together with the friends in your lives? Was it working at the same job…Children who were together in the same classroom…Love for the same author or television show?
Just like us, children unite in friendship based on commonalities…and those commonalities can be very simple! For young children, friendships can be made based on physical, personal, or materialistic similarities.
Children form friendships with children who they see as similar to themselves. You can help reinforce friendships by helping children see these similarities. This brings them closer to a classmate who they may not have seen as similar and may not have considered a potential friend.
“You like the color purple and Tisha is wearing a purple shirt.” “Your hair is a dark brown color and Brayden’s hair is black which is also a dark color.” Interestingly, these similarities are the foundation of friendship formation for young children!
As children get older, their friendship formations grow from relying on similar visible characteristics to shared interests and enjoyment together. Use information learned about children’s interests to connect them together, both inside and outside of the classroom.
If you learn that there are several children in your class whose favorite food is pancakes and you know there is a local all-you-can-eat pancake fundraiser, sharing this information with families may increase the possibility that those families will attend the event. This gives you the opportunity to talk about the shared experience afterwards in class, which might bring together this group of children, helping boost budding friendships.
Everything and everyone is connected, but it can be hard to see those similarities…this is true for adults and children. Help young children celebrate their differences and see their similarities. We believe this will truly help reinforce friendship development in your classroom community.