As we head back-to-school this year, the topic of how to make friends once again becomes the focus of our character development conversations around the dinner table. Friends are an important part of our lives. They bring value to our lives in numerous ways. As my children get prepared to start a new academic school year, we focus on remembering how to make new friends.
How to Make Friends
Although my children are extraverts, they have struggled at different times throughout their early childhood years with making and keeping friends (hey, I’m an adult and I am still practicing this skill of making new friends) These are our tried and true methods for making friends:
Tips for teaching kids on how to make friends.
Yes, this sounds so very simple, but our number one tip for making new friends is to “look friendly” to others – one way to do this is to smile. If you are in a classroom with 20 new children, a smile can be a ray of sunshine in your day. If you are a little nervous about making new friends, a smile may give you a boost of confidence as it is a reminder that you are a kind and happy person that others want to spend time with.
2. Listen to what the other person has to say.
This is a big deal in our house. We find that the kids are so excited to talk that they forget to listen. We are practicing being a good listener:
- maintaining eye contact
- repeating back what we hear
- not interrupting
- asking questions about what the other person has to say
3. Be Yourself.
My kids are funny, quirky and creative. It is my hope that they find friends who value who they are on the inside. It is important when making friends to be yourself. Not every child will connect with each other in the same way. If you don’t like horses and someone asks if you do, do not pretend to like them. Be honest. Your friendships will have a stronger beginning. *I find that the kids start to notice this more around 2nd grade, but some do earlier.
4. Ask others to play with you.
My daughter had a really hard time making friends last year. It was a new school and friendships had already formed. She really felt sad about not having anyone to play with on the playground. We practiced inviting each other to come play with us and she eventually starting asking children to come play with her on the parallel bar.
5. Say Hello and Good Morning.
These words are simple and a great way to start connecting with others. Practice saying them at home prior to school. Make it part of your daily routine and soon your child will be saying them too.
ACTIVITY: Write about Making Friends
Kids as young as toddlers can help write and draw about making friends. In fact, this activity is one of my favorite first week of school activities to do with kids from preschool to first grade. You could illustrate several pages each day and combine them together at the end of the week for a delightful home-made book that children can re-read with family members.
For younger children: limit the pages to 4. Encourage them to trace 2 circles on each page to represent the friends.
For older children: allow them to complete the book independently. Encourage them to write and label their drawings.
Learning Objective: Create a DIY book to represent being a good friend with drawings and words.
– fine motor
– early literacy
– book making
- Copy of the Friends Can book. This activity is a free ECE printable available on Teachers Pay Teachers.
Directions to make the DIY Friends Can Book.
- Print a set of Friends can booklet.
- Stack the booklet in the order you want the pages to appear.
- Staple the left side.
- Read the pages with your child. Let the child illustrate each page.
After I print the Friendship books out, I set them out in the writing center for the children to work on in small groups. Here is what our center looked like:
Each child completed their own friendship book.
If you are short on time, you could have each child work on one page, then assemble it to make a class friendship book as well.
I like that this activity allows for children to participate even though they are on different academic levels.
Toddlers are learning the vocabulary of friendship and how to use a variety of writing utensils. Their pictures may be mostly scribbles with some lines and circles forming.
Preschooler – Kindergarteners are forming bodies and faces. They are able to grasp more abstract concepts of friendship. I would encourage children of this age to use a minimum of one color per age. If you are 4 years old, then 4 colors should be used. (this paper is still a work in progress). If they have forgotten important details of people, hand them a mirror and encourage them to double check their illustrations body parts!
Grade Schoolers – are really past this book, but my oldest wanted to participate too. I never turn away a kid who wants to draw, write and read. These activities allow children to express their creativity. For struggling readers, making a book for a younger child is a great way to provide opportunities for them to interact with text at their level without being “too young.” When having older children write alongside younger children, it also provides a model for them as well. Extend their learning by having them write a story in paragraph form about how to make and keep friends.
Picture Books about Friendship for Preschoolers
Reading books about friendship with your child is a great way to start a discussion on how the characters in the story made new friends. Ask questions during the story such as: What do you think ___ will do? How would you handle the situation?
Affiliate links included to books:
Franklin’s New FriendWhen the moose family moves in, Franklin is initially a bit afraid of moose because of his size. When the two get to know each other, they realize that despite their differences, they become new friends. Read more here
Learning to Be a Good Friend: A Guidebook for Kids (Elf-Help Books for Kids)This book is part of a series of stories designed to help children navigate through life situations. A good springboard for parent / child discussions. Read more here
Friends: Making Them & Keeping Them (American Girl) Geared for girls 7+, this book covers friendship issues common to grade school girls. Read more here
How Do Dinosaurs Play with Their Friends? This story is a perfect introduction to SHOWING young kids how to play with dinosaurs, I mean friends. Geared for children ages 3-5, but would be enjoyed by older and younger children as well. Read more here
Llama Llama Time to Share This book is set in the cute rhythmic pattern of all llama llama books. It is set in a home environment, making it perfect for young children in a homeschooling setting. Read more here
More articles on How to Make Friends from the Teach ECE Education Blogger Team:
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Find on social media using the hashtag #TeachECE
Role Playing How to Be a Good Friend by Mom Inspired Life
Songs About Friendship for Kinder and Pre-K by Capri +3
Teaching Kids About Friendship and Being a Good Friend by Raising Lifelong Learners
Making Friends: Teaching Kids to Learn and Respect Different Names by Munchkins and Moms
How to Play with Friends a Preschoolers Visual Guide and Game by Powerful Mothering
Helping Your Homeschooler Socialize by Still Playing School
Making Friends Even When You Are Homeschooled by Learning 2 Walk
Book Friends by Growing Book by Book
Tips for Helping Preschoolers BE a Good Friend! #TeachECE by The Preschool Toolbox BlogFree Friends Play Dough Printable by Life Over C’s
Working Together to Create a Classroom Community by Fun-A-Day!
Teaching Kids How to Make Friends by The Educators’ Spin On It
For more ideas visit Tips for Making New Friends at School