In addition to preparing children academically for kindergarten, preschool teachers should spend time fostering social skills and friendships in their students. This article explores activities such as games, songs and books to promote social development.
Parents of young children are often concerned about their child’s friendships and developing social skills. Teachers are commonly asked,
“Does he have any friends?"
“Does she play with others well?"
There are many preschool socialization activities that teachers can use in their classroom that develop and promote friendships in young children. Some ideas to use are listed below.
Choose games that require children to work in pairs or small groups.
"Row, Row, Row Your Boat": Sit children facing each other with legs crossed and holding hands. Have them rock back and forth as they sing. Allow children to select a partner, or select children to work together to promote new friendships. Let the children that struggle with friendships to choose first.
Promote positive physical interactions: Have the children draw with their finger on the back of a peer as they say this poem “Draw a snake upon your back, put two eyes and paint it black, which finger did I use last?" The other child then guesses which finger was correct. The "artist" should tap with different fingers during the last sentence in additional plays to make the game more challenging.
Using this "Name Song" helps classmates learn everyone's names in a fun way. Use any tune you wish:
“I know what my name is, I wonder if you know, My name is …."(point to a child who calls out their name), Then all sing, “hello, hello, hello, hello, hello, hello, hello." Have the children wave to the child who has said their name. You can always try saying hello in different languages for additional fun.
Discussion on Friendships
Some questions to ask might be:
- Who are your friends?
- Why do I like my friends?
- What things do nice friends do?
Write children’s answers on large sheets of paper. You might like to add photos of children doing the things together as a visual reminder for children about friendships.
Many children’s books feature different friendships and relationships. Point these differences out to children as you read as an ongoing unit of learning about friendships. Two books you could use as a starting point are:
My Cat Maisie by Pamela Allen – This book explores rough and gentle play between a boy, a cat and a dog. Use this book as a basis to relate to children about the way they like to play.
That’s What Friends are For by P.K Halliman – This book lists specific qualities and ideas of things friends can do together.
Developing friendships can be a difficult task especially for a child with a quieter and more reserved personality. Do not push children if they are not ready. Help them to develop social skills needed to begin friendships and assist the friendships in developing over time. Teachers make wonderful role models and children learn from example. Make a point of speaking positively about all the children and share with them the positive qualities that they individually bring to friendships.