How to Encourage Friendship in the Classroom
School is often where children begin their first interpersonal relationships with others outside of their family circle. It's important to know how to encourage friendship in the classroom so that children can be happy during this stage of life.
The value of friendship is incalculable. It’s a relationship that starts with family members and then transfers to classmates. Once kids start school, they learn new activities that motivate them to interact with their peers and experience friendship.
In order to know how to encourage friendship in the classroom, the support of parents and teachers is necessary. Both parts must work together for children to learn to socialize in a healthy way.
What is friendship?
The word friend comes from an Indo-European root meaning to love. It refers to affection and companionship between two or more individuals. Friendship is the common dependence between two human beings.
Furthermore, it’s a reciprocal feeling based on trust, love, respect and comfort. What’s more, it’s one of the most special bonds that exists.
Friendship at every stage
Friendships begin during childhood and develop further in school when children interact with new acquaintances. In this sense, if children manage to form friendships, this will help them have a healthier social life in later stages of life.
At the same time, it helps them becomes more secure individuals with a higher self-esteem. Furthermore, it prepares them for learning how to listen to others.
Friendships between school-aged children are born, grow and strengthen as children get older.
Children between the ages of 3 and 4
At this age, children like to play in small groups and learn social rules. They play in pairs even though each one may be completely focused on his or her own activity.
Basically, children at this age tend towards individual play while sharing physical proximity with their peers. Gradually, they learn to interact when they let go and break through the barriers of egocentrism.
Between the ages of 4 and 6
Here, children begin to express their tastes and choose just one friend to play with… even though they don’t know if they have anything in common. In general, they don’t establish solid friendships. Therefore, they don’t miss their friend if they stop seeing him or her.
At 7 years of age
Children begin to share sports activities and to think logically and abstractly. They respect and understand game rules because they’re learning to reason.
At 8 years of age
Here, children find their first “best friend”, though they may have one or several. They start to build bonds and, at the same time, conflicts start to arise which they must learn to handle. At this age, children are conscious of what friendship and sharing means.
How to encourage friendship in the classroom
The time children spend at school with their peers causes them to build long-lasting friendships. Teachers and guides can establish guidelines regarding trust and help children and parents participate in:
- Activities for developing recreational and social skills so they exchange experiences, tastes and preferences.
- Gatherings that allow parents to meet one another and encourage children to be friendly.
- Teacher workshops regarding student interaction.
- Reading and writing through songs, stories and narrations that encourage friendship.
How do friendships form
Learning to make friends is a new experience for children, so they require guidance in order to be successful.
Through their friendships, children broaden their horizon and see the world from another perspective. They discover that there are people who share their same interests and abilities, and those who don’t.
The benefits of friendships
Friendships develop through play, and this interaction promotes healthy moral and psychosocial development. Through friendship, children learn communication, cooperation, problem solving, respect and negotiation. They also learn to identify and control emotions.
Solitary children tend to develop emotional issues. At the same time, friendlier children have a more positive attitude towards school and their environment in general. Friendship provides them with the necessary competitions for facing life as they grow.
In conclusion, it’s fundamental for teachers and parents to know how to encourage friendship in the classroom. Children need to learn to grow as social beings and establish relationships with their peers.
Friendships teach inclusion, companionship, solidarity and sincerity. They help children grow, show empathy and build a peaceful and happy environment for themselves and others.