Community News: February, 2015-2016

The Art Of Making And Keeping Friends

By Tania Hino

Kindergarten readiness (see checklist) is one of many pre-K parents’ worries. Yes, it is good to have all the listed skills, but in my humble opinion the art of making friends is by far the most important skill your child should know before starting kindergarten; even before learning to tell them about this event! ment. As a mother of three, I wish I had spent more time teaching them this skill before my kids started elementary school. We have all been told that reading, doing math and focusing more on science is important but for most children in school their main concern is not being able to read, but not having friends to play with. Children, in general, worry more about who they are going to be playing with during recess or who is getting invited to a birthday party.

15 Essential Skills That Friends Help Friends Acquire
From the book “Nobody likes me Everybody Hates Me” by Michele Borba, Ed.D.

  1. Solving problems and resolving conflicts.
  2. Making decisions and distinguishing between right and wrong.
  3. Handling teasing and verbal barbs, developing comebacks.
  4. Learning to assert themselves and stand up for what they believe.
  5. Understanding different points of view and nurturing empathy.
  6. Developing identity by seeing themselves in relation to others.
  7. Learning to cooperate, take turns, get along in a group, and share.
  8. Regulating emotions and developing self-control.
  9. Learning humility, being modest, and recognizing their shortcomings.
  10. Developing trust and loyalty.
  11. Acquiring confidence and courage in stressful groups and situations.
  12. Communicating feelings, opinions, and needs.
  13. Taking responsibility, owning up to mistakes, and making apologies.
  14. Bouncing back and acquiring resilience.
  15. Having fun, laughing, and keeping things in perspective.

When looking for a possible cooperative school or preschool for your child, make sure that the teacher can teach your child proper social/emotional development. Nobel Laureate James Heckman, an economist at the University of Chicago states that Social/ Emotional Development skills are-“The skills that allow people to interact appropriately and effectively with others may be the most important takeaways from preschool”. The teachers should help your child develop self-confidence, teamwork, inquisitiveness and communication.

Friendships begin at home and a good teacher can continue with the social/ emotional process at school. When your children are developing and learning on how to make friends, this is what they are learning in the process: problem solving, cooperation, self-control, and compassion.

This is how you can help your child develop friendships:

  • Read books
  • Organize Playdates
  • Teach Positive social skills
  • Help children solve friendship conflicts
  • Communicate and collaborate with your child’s teacher
  • Be a coach.

Reading books

Read books about friendship and how to make friends. Here is a list of possible books to read (there are many more books and this is just a sample list to get you started.)

Books for kids:
  • How To Be A Friend by Laurie Brown and Marc Brown
  • How Do dinosaurs Play With Their Friends? by Jane Yolen
  • When Sophie Gets Angry, Really Really Angry by Molly Bang
  • Books for Parents/Teachers: Nobody Likes Me, Everyone Hates Me by Michele Borba
  • The Unwritten Rules of Friendship by Natalie M. Elman, Ph.D., and Eileen Kennedy- Moore, Ph.D.
  • Teaching Your Children the Language of Social Success by Marshall P. Duke, Ph.D., Stephen Nowicki, Jr. Ph.D., and Elisabeth A. Martin, M.Ed.

Organize Playdates

Support your child with developing essential social and emotional skills by making connections with school friends at home. Ask her/him whom she/he would like to invite for a playdate. It is often easier for children to make friends in their own space, one on one, than in school.

Positive Social Skills

Teach your child how to smile, look at people’s eyes, remember kid’s names or simply say hello. Observe your child’s social skills and learn what might need polishing. Then focus on teaching one skill at a time. Role playing helps a lot to teach a new behavior or skill. Make sure your child learns one behavior first before teaching another one. Keep evaluating.

Help children solve friendship conflicts

You can do this by having your child express the worries and problems they are having with friends. Help them go through what happened and how they felt about it. They may be able to figure out an alternative solution by processing thru with you and act differently the next time.

Communicate with your child’s Teachers

Communicate with your child’s teacher and learn what the teacher is doing to develop essential friendship skills. Have the teacher observe your child and work with the teacher to help your child develop appropriate social skills.

Be a Coach

Or more like a referee with your kid and her friends (help them develop the skills to resolve conflicts instead of solving the problem for them).

Children with healthy social skills will have a good foundation which enables them to become enthusiastic lifelong learners — enthusiastic because she has deep connections with friends who make her feel secure and confident, and allow her to believe that learning is fun as well as meaningful.

The PAC Newsletter

The PAC Newsletter is produced by parents working in the PAC Communication Committee. The aim of the newsletter is to help co-ops communicate among themselves, inform families about important dates, ideas, related classes and seminars, Cooperative Preschool solutions and techniques from other preschools. It also advertises teacher openings, and fundraising activities.

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