Preschool friendships form and evolve, and while teachers know there are bound to be best buddies, it's important to promote inclusivity among classmates. Teaching friendship skills becomes an important part of the preschool curriculum, which in turn helps build a strong school community backed by kindness and understanding.
National Best Friends Day is June 8. This is the ideal time to address the importance of friendship and help kids learn friendship skills. Consider these ideas for enhancing your preschool curriculum and promoting healthy friendships.
Circle time: This essential preschool period is perfect for learning important friendship skills. Go over classroom rules like taking turns, being kind, following rules and speaking only when called upon. Then relate these social skills to what it means to be a good friend. Talk about feelings and give clear examples. "If Tom budges in line, how would that make Sally feel? What should he do next time to be a good friend?"
Friendship meaning: As a class, brainstorm about what it means to be a friend. It is fascinating what preschoolers will come up with! For a more directed activity, create a print-off for each student that says, "A friend is ..." and then have three lines where you can help them write down their answers. Finally, hang on the wall for all students and parents to see.
Read friendship books: There are a variety of great books that promote sharing and friendship. One of the most well-known is the Rainbow Fish series. The first book is a touching tale that kids can easily relate to, plus the visuals are engaging. After you read a story, make sure to go over the lesson learned so you can ensure students understand. Asking kids to raise their hand to provide their thoughts on how the characters felt, what happened and why it was important can help boost comprehension.
Circle of friends: Use construction paper in a variety of colors and help kids trace and cut out their hand print. Then label each with the student's name and display on the wall in a circle or heart shape to represent the classroom family. Another option is to make a chain together out of strips of construction paper. All children work together as a team to make a chain that decorates the classroom and represents the connection they have to one another.
Partner activities: When planning preschool activities, keep in mind friendships when selecting partners or small groups. While sometimes it's fun to work with close friends, teachers can use this collaboration time to help kids get to know other students they might not play with as much. Blend boys with girls and pair shy kids with those who are more outgoing to encourage growth of friendships. For example, have two kids who might not normally play together work on a finger painting project. Place both names and the artwork on display as a way to encourage sharing and partner pride.
Preschool friendships form and evolve, and while teachers know there are bound to be best buddies, it's important to promote inclusivity among classmates.