Tonight I'm enjoying the sound of wind chimes through the window as the winds shift and winter blows back in. It's cold outside, so I'm staying bundled up inside and checking in just long enough to share a bulletin board I made today, to complement a lesson I'll be starting tomorrow on friendship.
And, before I unplug again, some reflections on friendship:
Making and keeping friends is an important skill for children to learn. Not only are friends fun to have around, but healthy attachments are an important part of a child's experience in school. Children that can form friendships tend to adjust to the school experience better because they're more likely to develop self-esteem and build important social skills, like getting along, cooperating and problem-solving.
Since students don't come to school with these skills neatly tucked away in their backpack, we must be modeling, teaching, and practicing them in our day-to-day interactions right alongside of and, dare I say it, woven into academic content.
How do you help your children find friends that fit? Here are some goals that friends can work on as new relationship opportunities present themselves:
*Cooperate and be kind to others.
*Be willing to play fairly, take turns, and share.
*Listen to others' ideas.
*Apologize and forgive one another.
*Express feelings appropriately. Use "I" statements to share how you're feeling and what you need from your friends.
*Practice empathy to respond to friends' feelings in an understanding, helpful way.
*Be honest and loyal to your friends.
*Keep a positive attitude and hang out with friends who uplift you.
*Show respect. Be the kind of friend that you would want to have.
*Express gratitude and appreciation.
Encourage your children to choose one of these goals at a time to work on as they learn how each one looks, sounds, and feels in their world at their age. Remember that how these goals play out will change slightly through the ages and stages.
Talk with your child(ren) about the qualities that they look for in a friend. Ask questions like these:
*How did you decide on those qualities?
*What do you usually do to make a new friend?
*What advice would you give a classmate who is having a hard time making friends?
*Would you want to be your friend? Why or why not?
*What qualities do you have to offer to someone that might make you a good-fit friend?
To enrich the discussion, have students trace their hands onto a paper, left on one side, right on the other. On the right hand, have them write five strengths that they bring to a friendship. On the other hand, have them write five areas for growth, things that they could do better in their friendships.
If you don't have access to paper-pen supplies, partners can put their hands together as if they're giving a high-five and take the Five Finger Friendship Challenge aloud.
Finally, check out these resources for additional friendship tips: