Make it easy for the students in your class to make friends and you’ll all benefit. From fewer controversies and conflicts in the classroom to better social and educational outcomes, fostering friendships in the classroom has benefits for everyone. Avoiding negative labeling, making great game and book choices and even setting up your classroom the right way can help kids make friendships that will last the school year and beyond.
Healthy friendships and the ability to form good relationships with other students begins far before the elementary school years. The foundation of social skills and the ability to recognize those skills in others begins as early as preschool. In fact, a recent study by Yale University revealed that over 1,000 preschoolers are expelled from school each year; children labeled as behavior problems this early may just live up to expectations later. Negative labels also may make it more difficult for kids to make friends; students may not want to play with the “troublemaker”, the “behavior problem” or the “bad” kid in class. Positive labeling ensures that kids are not given a negative label to live up to or that other kids aren’t scared away.
Positive Curriculum Choices
The books you read and stories you study can help foster friendships; choosing books, games and programs with positive and supportive messages can help model this behavior for the kids in your class. Activities and games that model cooperation and support for others can help these attitudes spill over into friendships. The positive behaviors modeled can also provide valuable opportunities for talking out problems and for learning to get along with others.
Create a Respectful Learning Environment
We all have differences, and learning more about the individuals in your class can help foster friendships. Kids will learn more about their similarities and develop a connection with their peers when you incorporate activities that promote sharing “about me” information. A classroom that is not tolerant of bullying and that rewards supportive behavior can go a long way towards building lasting friendships
Shake Things Up
Moving seat assignments, changing responsibilities and roles and physically changing the setup at the room can help mix things up and ensure that kids have the opportunity to learn to work with others. While recess and other unstructured times give students the chance to self-select their own preferred groups, changes in the seating pattern can help kids who have not had the opportunity to get to know one another connect, simply though proximity.
Our goal is to help you manage your classroom and set your students up for success.