Six Ways to help children make friends
Starting school and making friends can be challenging for young children. Although all children want friends, many lack the knowledge and skills to make and keep them.
Children need to learn - words to say to enter into play, how to invite others to play with them, and how to settle problems that arise when they are playing with other children.
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You will find -
- books to read,
- games to play
- songs to sing,
- a daily student book activity
2. Read friendship stories
Read stories about other children or characters making friends. Talk about what the characters in the story say and do to solve their friendship dilemmas and how the children can do the same.
3. Role play and use puppets
Role play to show facial expressions and words that invite or repel friendship. After each short skit, discuss what the person’s face looked like and what their voice sounded like. Did they make the children want to be a friend? Children seem to remember silly skits. Demonstrate puppets being bossy and aggressive, as well as too shy. Act out being annoying by poking, asking the same question repeatedly, and grabbing toys.
Be sure to role play ways to encourage friendship as well. Show positive actions such as smiling, sharing and helping. More positive actions children can take to make friends.
4. Group small numbers of children
Grouping small numbers of children can be less overwhelming for some children. Be sure to say the names of the children and show them (not just tell) what is expected of them before leaving them to work together. If a child seems really shy, match her/him with one child until she/he seems more comfortable.
5. Play games to help children learn each other's names
Children do not learn each other’s names quickly. In my early days of teaching, I assumed the kids would remember each others’ names after the first week or two. I was surprised to find at the end of October the children using sentences such as, "That boy over there with the red hair…".
Play games that reinforce learning names.
- Have a small group of children sit in a circle. Call out a name and have the child with the ball roll it to the child whose name you said. Repeat.
- During attendance have each child tell you the name of the person sitting on their right.
- Make a class book called These are my new friends. Each child makes one page, drawing themselves and taping in a photo, as well as completing the frame sentence by adding their name. ____ is a new friend. Read it often. If the children's printing is unrecognizable, the teacher prints it underneath.
6. Teach children that friends make mistakes
Young children change their friends often, depending on what happens each day. If yesterday’s friend will not share today, children say they aren’t friends anymore. They need to learn that all friends make mistakes and will not always agree with them.