Your child’s first day of school can be some of the most memorable days of their childhood. Even if your child attends kindergarten or daycare, admission to school is an important step in its development. Perhaps for the first time they are spending the entire day away from home and outside their comfort zone. They can also move to a new school with all or especially new faces.
The good news is that the friendships that children make during the preschool and kindergarten years will become a great support system. Although the benefits of friendship for childhood development are sometimes overlooked, friendship can have a tremendous impact on mental and physical health. Let’s take a look at what parents and caregivers can do to nurture these early childhood friendships.
So how can parents and caregivers help children to form strong friendships in their lives? While there is no one-size-fits-all solution for making friends, children can develop relationship skills that will develop deep and meaningful bonds with others. And remember, when it comes to friendship, it is about quality, not about quantity.
Some benefits of early childhood friendship:
- Model friendship skills.
Children look for adults in their lives and take behavioral cues. Therefore, whenever you interact with your friends, be sure to behave well. For example, avoid chatting or talking with friends, especially when your children are within earshot. If you have friends you know from your child’s age, point them out and tell your children the importance of those long-lasting friendships in childhood.
- Encourage friendships that are important to your child.
If your child builds an important relationship that gives them happiness, then support it, even if the children go to different schools. For example, if your child has preschool friends who are now attending another kindergarten, schedule a time to see those friends. While these dates are rare, it helps them feel connected and broadens the scope of your child’s friends.
- Respect your child’s personality
When it comes to making friends, it is important that you let your child be who they are. Try not to compare your child’s friendliness skills with his or her siblings’ social personality or other children you know. While some children are extroverted and enjoy having lots of friends, others are happy to find only a few close friendships. The important thing is to celebrate your child’s unique personality and specific needs.
The Christ School in Orlando has a program dedicated to students with dyslexia. The Christ School Bridge teachers are highly-trained in the Orton-Gillingham (OG) approach and provide a unique, specialized program of instruction that meets the individual learner’s needs.
The best thing you can do to help your child so far is to be available to listen. Navigating childhood friendships is one of the most difficult developmental stages children have to face. Support your child by talking about difficult situations as they arise. Nevertheless, with little support and gentle guidance from parents and other influential adults, most children develop the social skills necessary to make friends.
Eventually, children will develop socially as they grow physically, emotionally, and cognitively throughout their school years. With loving support from parents and adults, children will enjoy the journey of developing meaningful friendships throughout their lives.