February is the month of love! That love is for our partner, family, and friends. In our class, we work on socialization skills all year, but the special Valentine holiday is the prime time to focus on further building friendships. Children come to school to learn math, writing, and letter sounds and these are important skills. However important these academic skills are to us, as their parents and teachers, children have two questions when they come to school:
1) Will anyone be nice to me?
2)Who will play with me today?
Simple, basic questions with so much significance to the child. Friendships at four and five years old are fleeting and fluid, meaning they can move rapidly in and out of relationships. Their "best" friend can change daily (sometimes hourly) as their interests and social "rules" change. They can also lose friends or feel insecure about who is their friend. I took my daughter Gracie to the park and she was thrilled that there were other girls there. She started to follow them and asked if she could play. The "big" girls promptly said "no" and continued their exclusive game of tag. My heart absolutely broke for Gracie. We love our kids so much and feel that empathy when they hurt.
But there are things we as parents and teachers can do to help our youngsters develop and maintain friendships:
*Model social behavior~ let them see you be a friend
*Practice~ invite parents with their kids over for "play dates"
*Use Positive Language~teach them how to ask someone to play
*Instill Resiliency~don't dwell on your child's shyness or lonely feelings/acknowledge their feelings and move on
*Conflict is Inevitable~children will have problems and disagreements and these are learning opportunities
Next Month I will focus on Conflict Resolution and why we can use it as a tool for learning!
Julie Avery, the Junior K Coordinator, is the teacher that runs the Little Acres Program. She has been working with children over the past 10 years. With Julie's California teaching credential, she will ensure a child's developmental learning through patience, understanding, and quality academic activities.