back to school,  friendship,  games,  Social skills

Building Friendships in the Preschool Classroom

For a preschooler, the scariest thing about starting school can be not knowing who you’re going to play with.  It’s a very real fear that can cause a lot of anxiety for little ones.  This is why I spend so much time throughout the year encouraging children to continue getting to know each other and making sure that they work with people that they may not have chosen to work with on their own.

I like to start by helping the children find common interests.  We talk about the kinds of toys they enjoy playing with, sports or activities that they participate in, television shows that they like to watch, the people in their families, and their pets.  These are pretty basic conversations that give the children an opportunity to share, and they help me figure out who has similar interests or experiences. Using this information I can start to help children choose classroom activities that may interest them, and group children together, helping them get to know each other as they play organically.

I also use small group activities to group children intentionally.  Sometimes I chose children to work together who are similar – in experience, level of understanding, skill, and prior knowledge – while other times I group children who are very different.  All of these grouping opportunities give children the chance to work together and build common understand as they bond over shared experiences.

There are also a number of simple games that we play which help children see that there are others who think like they do.  One of these is “This or That.” In order to play you have to first split the classroom in half.  This can be done literally with a line of masking tape down the middle of the floor, or figuratively with an imaginary line.  Once the room has been split ask all of the children to gather in the middle of the classroom and then give them two choices.  For example, you might say “Would you rather eat cake or ice cream?” Then instruct the children who choose cake to gather on one side of the room, while the children who choose ice cream gather on the other side of the classroom.  This very easy game is a fun way for children to visualize their similarities and differences, and it is sure to create some laughter if you choose silly enough choices to give them.

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