Encouraging friendship at school

School is about learning but perhaps first and foremost, it’s about relationship; practising how to be in community.

encouraging friends at school

Maria Montessori believed that every person has a responsibility to be part of something that not only serves individual interests and passions but those of all humanity. Spending extended periods of time with other children provides opportunities to enact kindness, empathy, self-control, patience, sharing – all tools that facilitate successful relationships as children grow, which ultimately enables them to be productive, proactive members of society.

People are complicated and consequently friendships can be tricky, for some children more than others, and our role, as parents and teachers, is to support them as they navigate the social context at school. One way we can do this is to open up a conversation about friendship – what it means to be a good friend and, as little ones start their school journey, some ways to make new friends.

Some really simple things that children can do so encourage friendship at school are:

  • Smile – children with a warm expression on their faces makes others feel comfortable, which invites playing and chatting.
  • Remember names – remembering a name makes someone feel special (recognised, known).
  • Listen well – everyone likes to be heard; children like to share about the things that make them excited. Asking questions is also a great way for children to show interest in one another.
  • A few is fine – children do not need to be friends with everyone. Respecting others is important but quality friendship is not about “how many”.
  • Be yourself – this is a journey. As children grow, they will learn more about their interests and personality, and should feel confident to share that with others, most especially, their friends.

As our children grow up it may even help them to share some of our own friendship experiences—making ourselves vulnerable when it comes to our mistakes will encourage children to share theirs, fostering a healthy attitude to figuring out people and relationship dynamics.