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September 11, 2017

Building Relationships: Making New Friends

By Sandra Carrillo
Grades PreK–K

    Early childhood classrooms are full of children eager to learn! While it is important for students to master their letters, shapes, and numbers, schools also serve as a training ground for learning how to build relationships.

    As young children enter school, they immediately start forming relationships with the adults and other children in their environment. This is important as a child’s social, emotional state and sense of community affects his or her academic learning. Children often begin to develop special friendships with their peers which increases their feelings of comfort, security, and confidence in their social world. These friendships also help build a sense of empathy and caring for others. Teachers can help students develop meaningful and rewarding relationships by offering them support.

    By pre-kindergarten age, children are beginning to exhibit certain behaviors. They are forming positive relationships with teachers and peers which enables them to feel comfortable and confident within the classroom community. They are interacting with their peers and may even have preferred friends. Early childhood educators are responsible for providing children in their classrooms with various opportunities to build relationships. Here are some suggestions on how to help children foster their friendships.

    Four Ways to Help Foster Friendships

    Facilitate peer interactions through structured activities and play.

    Starting the day at circle time with a poem or song about friendship is a nice way to set the stage. To download the above "Making New Friends" poem from Scholastic Teachables, just click on the image or the title of the poem. (This resource will be free until October 15!) This structured activity will help children begin thinking about the relationships they have created in their new classroom. It is also helpful when children are in centers to walk around, observe, and engage with them. Sometimes children need someone to encourage them to show initiative. For example, a teacher might say “Anthony, why don’t you ask Nicholas if he wants play in the construction center with you?”

    The September issue of My Big World with Clifford "Can I Play?" provides teachers with additional support in helping children make new friends.  

    Model positive interactions by engaging in play with children.

    It is important to engage in conversations with each child throughout the day. This is a great way to model for children how to approach each other, and be able to take turns when conversing. It is also important to assist children in communicating effectively with each other and resolving conflicts appropriately, such as how to take turns, etc.

    Read aloud and discuss books where characters deal with a variety of situations.

    There are a variety of children’s books that focus on building relationships and making friends. Books are an engaging way to teach children about what it means to be a good friend. My Friends Mis Amigos by Taro Gomi is a book that young children can relate to. It is about a little girl who goes about doing everyday activities, hopping, skipping, etc. She talks about all of the wonderful things that she has learned from her new animal friends. The book is repetitious so children can easily follow along.

    After reading the story, a great conversation starter might be for children to talk about what are some of the things friends do for each other as in, "Tell me something you would teach your new friend to do." This is a great opportunity for children to reflect on their new friendships.

    Create a class book

    Materials:

    • Sentence strip with “I learned to _______ from my friend, _________.”
    • Paper
    • Crayons and other writing utensils

    Children draw a picture of themselves with their new friend engaging in an activity together. The teacher will fill in the blanks according to what the child shares about their drawing. When everyone is done, the first class book of the year will be complete. The teacher can create the cover page, laminate, and bind the book together.

     

    Here are some other examples of great books that can serve as extensions of the friendship theme in the classroom. They focus on how to play nicely and how to help new friends through trying situations.

    Provide time, space, and materials that encourage children to work and play in both large and small groups.

    When children are given options how they work and play, they begin to make choices that will foster their learning, growth, and development. Some children prefer to play by themselves at the beginning of the school year. That is very normal. Giving them the opportunity to go to a quiet center where they can possibly read a book or play with a puzzle will provide them the space they need.

    Creating friendships is an important part of childhood. In order for children to be able to build relationships they must feel that they are in a safe and nurturing environment. As human beings we all feel the need to belong and to feel valued and loved.

    We all remember that one special childhood friend. I have a vague memory of how I made my first friend in kindergarten, but I can almost bet that Jessica and I must have bonded during our time in the dramatic play center, or at recess singing “A tisket, a tasket, a green and yellow basket…” The truth of the matter is, our relationship was fostered in a safe learning environment and that first interaction way back when, flourished into a lifelong friendship.

    “Everyone has a friend during each stage in life, but only lucky ones have the same friend in all stages of life. “

    Warmly,

    Sandy

    Early childhood classrooms are full of children eager to learn! While it is important for students to master their letters, shapes, and numbers, schools also serve as a training ground for learning how to build relationships.

    As young children enter school, they immediately start forming relationships with the adults and other children in their environment. This is important as a child’s social, emotional state and sense of community affects his or her academic learning. Children often begin to develop special friendships with their peers which increases their feelings of comfort, security, and confidence in their social world. These friendships also help build a sense of empathy and caring for others. Teachers can help students develop meaningful and rewarding relationships by offering them support.

    By pre-kindergarten age, children are beginning to exhibit certain behaviors. They are forming positive relationships with teachers and peers which enables them to feel comfortable and confident within the classroom community. They are interacting with their peers and may even have preferred friends. Early childhood educators are responsible for providing children in their classrooms with various opportunities to build relationships. Here are some suggestions on how to help children foster their friendships.

    Four Ways to Help Foster Friendships

    Facilitate peer interactions through structured activities and play.

    Starting the day at circle time with a poem or song about friendship is a nice way to set the stage. To download the above "Making New Friends" poem from Scholastic Teachables, just click on the image or the title of the poem. (This resource will be free until October 15!) This structured activity will help children begin thinking about the relationships they have created in their new classroom. It is also helpful when children are in centers to walk around, observe, and engage with them. Sometimes children need someone to encourage them to show initiative. For example, a teacher might say “Anthony, why don’t you ask Nicholas if he wants play in the construction center with you?”

    The September issue of My Big World with Clifford "Can I Play?" provides teachers with additional support in helping children make new friends.  

    Model positive interactions by engaging in play with children.

    It is important to engage in conversations with each child throughout the day. This is a great way to model for children how to approach each other, and be able to take turns when conversing. It is also important to assist children in communicating effectively with each other and resolving conflicts appropriately, such as how to take turns, etc.

    Read aloud and discuss books where characters deal with a variety of situations.

    There are a variety of children’s books that focus on building relationships and making friends. Books are an engaging way to teach children about what it means to be a good friend. My Friends Mis Amigos by Taro Gomi is a book that young children can relate to. It is about a little girl who goes about doing everyday activities, hopping, skipping, etc. She talks about all of the wonderful things that she has learned from her new animal friends. The book is repetitious so children can easily follow along.

    After reading the story, a great conversation starter might be for children to talk about what are some of the things friends do for each other as in, "Tell me something you would teach your new friend to do." This is a great opportunity for children to reflect on their new friendships.

    Create a class book

    Materials:

    • Sentence strip with “I learned to _______ from my friend, _________.”
    • Paper
    • Crayons and other writing utensils

    Children draw a picture of themselves with their new friend engaging in an activity together. The teacher will fill in the blanks according to what the child shares about their drawing. When everyone is done, the first class book of the year will be complete. The teacher can create the cover page, laminate, and bind the book together.

     

    Here are some other examples of great books that can serve as extensions of the friendship theme in the classroom. They focus on how to play nicely and how to help new friends through trying situations.

    Provide time, space, and materials that encourage children to work and play in both large and small groups.

    When children are given options how they work and play, they begin to make choices that will foster their learning, growth, and development. Some children prefer to play by themselves at the beginning of the school year. That is very normal. Giving them the opportunity to go to a quiet center where they can possibly read a book or play with a puzzle will provide them the space they need.

    Creating friendships is an important part of childhood. In order for children to be able to build relationships they must feel that they are in a safe and nurturing environment. As human beings we all feel the need to belong and to feel valued and loved.

    We all remember that one special childhood friend. I have a vague memory of how I made my first friend in kindergarten, but I can almost bet that Jessica and I must have bonded during our time in the dramatic play center, or at recess singing “A tisket, a tasket, a green and yellow basket…” The truth of the matter is, our relationship was fostered in a safe learning environment and that first interaction way back when, flourished into a lifelong friendship.

    “Everyone has a friend during each stage in life, but only lucky ones have the same friend in all stages of life. “

    Warmly,

    Sandy

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