Every child needs to feel like they belong

Our book study on Challenging Behaviors in Preschool is coming to a close so for my final post, I want to talk about belonging.  After all, no matter what challenging behaviors we may face in our classrooms, it is important to remember that every child in the classroom needs to feel like he or she belongs…

The importance of 'belonging' in the preschool classroom by Teach Preschool

“Two of the big tasks in preschool are to help children make friends and become a part of the classroom community” (Bilmes, Ch.3, pp. 57).

You might be wondering what ‘belonging’ has to do with challenging behaviors. The answer is fairly simple. In order for young children to feel confident, happy, comfortable, and at ease with themselves and others, including the teacher, they need to first feel like the classroom environment is a place where they are invited, accepted, loved, and “a part of the group, not a part from the group” (Bilmes, Ch.3, pp. 57).

The importance of 'belonging' in the preschool classroom by Teach PreschoolThe importance of 'belonging' in the preschool classroom by Teach Preschool

Children who feel a part of the classroom community will be better able to focus on building healthy relationships and having a happy experience. That ‘sense of belonging’ is so important to the success of a young child in the preschool classroom that an entire chapter was dedicated to the word “Belonging” in the book titled “Beyond Behavior Management : The Six Life Skills Children Need – second edition” by Jenna Bilmes…

The importance of 'belonging' in the preschool classroom by Teach Preschool

“Sometimes it’s easy to forget that the children in our care have rich lives outside of our four walls (Bilmes, Ch.3, pp. 59).

Bilmes provides lots of ways to help young children develop that sense of belonging. I won’t try to cover them all in this post but I will highlight several that stand out to me. One of the first considerations is to remember that young children come from all different kinds of families and backgrounds. Part of fostering that sense of belonging is to welcome not only the child into the classroom, but for young children, they need to know that you welcome the entire family…

The importance of 'belonging' in the preschool classroom by Teach Preschool

Getting to know the child means also learning about the child’s family, being sensitive to the child’s culture and traditions, and having an awareness of the child’s experiences at home. When young children enter your classroom, they are leaving the familiarity of their home and family. Anything you can do to bring the familiarity of their home and family into the classroom will help the child feel more comfortable in your classroom. Adding photos of the child’s family on the wall, talking to the child about the things he does at home, and even inviting parents to come and read or talk with the children will go a long ways towards helping the child feel more connected to your classroom environment…

The importance of 'belonging' in the preschool classroom by Teach Preschool

“We focus so much on helping young children develop independence that we sometimes forget about interdependence” (Bilmes, Ch.3, pp.68).

In order to build a sense of belonging, young children need to be in the process of developing their skills to work with others, play cooperatively, help others, have a sense of empathy, and be a part of a team. It is important to note that these skills are not automatic, they are skills that are developed over time through healthy routines and consistent expectations you set in the classroom.  Providing routines can help young children understand what to do so that they can focus on how to do it with others. Routines such as classroom jobs, morning meetings, and keeping a predictable schedule can help young children feel more confident and be more competent as a member of your classroom community…

The importance of 'belonging' in the preschool classroom by Teach Preschool

“It is as much the teacher’s responsibility to facilitate children’s friendships and belonging to the group as it is to teach them colors or numbers”
(Bilmes, Ch.3, pp. 78).

For any child to truly feel like they belong, they need to have friends in the classroom. This isn’t always as easy as it seems and part of the reason is that young children come to the classroom with all different skills levels of play. In addition, some children may still prefer to play alone while others enjoy playing with just one friend or a large group of friends. But no matter the skill level or the preference in playing with others, make no mistake, every child needs to feel like they have a friend and every child needs to feel like they are liked by you, as the teacher, and the other children in the classroom…

The importance of 'belonging' in the preschool classroom by Teach Preschool

When it comes to friends, it is also important to note the difference between “being friends” and having “friendly behavior.” Bilmes explains, “When you enforce friendly behavior rather than artificial friendships, children develop skills that will last them for life” (Ch.3, pp.80).  To promote friendly behavior, you can comment on the behavior such as “You two are doing a great job putting all those blocks in the basket together” or “Thank you for making room for each other at the table.”

The importance of 'belonging' in the preschool classroom by Teach Preschool

There are many things to think about when it comes to helping young children build friendships so I want to encourage you to continue researching the topic of friendship and not just assume that friendship in the classroom is just a given. It takes your support as well as your understanding of child development.  As my students head back to school this fall, I hope I will be able to write more on the topic of friendships. Since reading this book, there are lots of tips that I have enjoyed reading for my own teaching practice.

The importance of 'belonging' in the preschool classroom by Teach Preschool

If you haven’t had a chance to read each of the Challenging Behavior posts shared by my fellow bloggers, be sure to stop by PreKinders and you will see a list of each post by title along with a link to read each of those posts.

Summer Blog Book Study: Challenging Behaviors

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By | July 28th, 2014|Categories: Friendship|Tags: , |8 Comments

How to make friends in kindergarten

Today, Sarah from How Wee Learn has joined me to bring you a few tips for helping children make friends in kindergarten. Sarah is a mom of three children and has been a kindergarten teacher for many years. Now let’s take a look at what Sarah has for us all today…

Making friends in Kindergarten

Kindergarten is an exciting time for many children and their parents. But with that excitement comes some challenges. One area of concern for many parents is fostering friendships for their Kindergarten child. Every parent wants to be sure their child has a friend in Kindergarten.

Building Friendships in Kindergarten

How can parents help foster friendships for their Kindergartener when they are not in the classroom themselves? Having taught Kindergarten for years, I have some suggestions.

  1. Model and teach how to be a friend

Hopefully, before your child starts Kindergarten, she has had some time to be with other children – whether that is in a preschool, a playgroup, or simply at local parks. If your Kindergarten child has not had much of this yet, there is no better time to start. Use any opportunity to model and teach what ‘Being a Good Friend’ looks like. Focus on sharing and caring – but be sure to have your wee one expect the same respect. In Kindergarten some children are so busy sharing that they never get a turn themselves. Remind your little one that she must stand up for herself too.

  1. Send friendly postcards

One year, a wise Mama made sweet postcards on the first day of school and asked that I hand them out to all of the children at the end of the day. The postcards said the name of the child, her parents, and her phone number and that she would love to get together at a park for a play sometime. This was a great ice breaker and the child received lots of play invitations.

Building Friendships in Kindergarten

  1. Have play dates outside of school

Since Kindergarten children are still so young, they still need help with friendship skills. Having play dates with friends outside of school gives parents the opportunity to continue building on social skills.

  1. Never hesitate to chat with the teacher

Most Kindergarten teachers put a lot of emphasis and focus on friendships and social skills. Most do lessons and specific teaching on what being a friend means and teachers try very hard to observe the children at play and address any issues as well as highlight positive behaviours. That being said, there are usually a lot of children in one Kindergarten classroom. There will be comments or issues that go unseen by the Teacher. Please never assume the Teacher knows of trouble your wee one is having. Children thrive in the classroom when parents are involved. A quick call to your child’s teacher is always welcomed.

Kindergarten is a time full of learning and adventure. It is quite the journey and having good friends makes that journey so much more fun!

About Sarah

Sarah from Three Wee Ones

I am a Mama to 3 wee ones and I have been a Kindergarten teacher for many years.  I now have the opportunity to stay home with my children and blog about How my Wee ones Learn at home.   I write daily about simple, creative, and fun play-based learning activities that are meant to support the natural curiosity and wonder wee ones have.  I love to connect and learn from other Mama’s and believe a supportive community (even an online one!) is what all Mamas and their wee ones need to learn, grow, and thrive.

A special thanks to Sarah for sharing with us today! Be sure to visit Sarah over at How We Learn!

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Making friendship bracelets in preschool

Many of my students are new to each other this year so to help them become more familiar with each other, Mrs. Courtney and I spent a little more time on helping the children get to know each other…

We started our discussion on friendship by taking a picture walk through our Clifford Magazine by Scholastic and today’s topic was on different ways we can make friends…

After reading our Clifford magazine, we invited the children to make friendship bracelets. To prepare for our friendship bracelet activity, Mrs. Courtney and I cut up straws into small pieces and put each color in a different baggie along with a pipe cleaner….

Each child chose one baggie of straw beads and were then invited to share their color of beads with the other children so that everyone could make a bracelet with all the different colors…

Some of the children were very comfortable asking others if they could please have one of their beads to add to their bracelet. Other children were not so comfortable asking and needed Mrs. Courtney and I to help them do the asking.  But every child was happy to share their beads with anyone who asked…

In the end, we didn’t worry about whether every child made a bracelet that had all the colors and neither did the children…

Instead, we let the children interpret this process in a way that they enjoyed or understood…

Some children were very interested in collecting a bead from all the other children and some children just preferred making a pattern or using only their favorite color of bead…

Regardless of how the children chose to make a bracelet, this process did encourage the children to talk to each other and to spend a few minutes sharing and helping each other along the way…

Thank You!

I want to give my friend Wendy Young over at Kidlutions: Solutions for Kids Spin-Doctor Parenting a big thank you for sharing this idea with me!  Since my class definitely put their own “spin” on this idea – be sure to stop by Kidlutions to see the Friendship Bracelet Tutorial!

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By | September 16th, 2012|Categories: Friendship|Tags: , , , , |5 Comments

Working together to create our friendship apple tree

In my previous post, I shared our sticky apple table and mentioned that each child selected a few apples from the sticky table to add to our friendship apple tree…

While the sticky table apples were happening at one table, the children were also painting our friendship tree at another table…

Mrs. Courtney mixed a little glue in the green paint so the apples would stick to the tree when we were ready…

The children worked together to paint both the top of the tree and the tree trunk. They used a small scraper to add a texture to our tree trunk as well…

We also added each child’s name to the apples so that every child would have their very own apple on the tree…

Because there was glue in the paint, the children were able to add their apple, stem and leaf to the tree before the paint dried and then we set the tree top and trunk aside to dry…

And once the apple tree was completely dry, we displayed it on the wall for all the children to see their names and to help us remember that we are part of a community…

 

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Links to Grow on

A collection of Apple Crafts from the Crafty Crow

A is for Apple from Preschool Daze

Apple Pie Playdough from Little Wonders’ Days

Ten Thumbprint Apples from House of Baby Piranha

By | September 15th, 2012|Categories: Friendship|Tags: , , , , |1 Comment

Sticky table friendship apples

It is very important at the beginning of a new school year to help the children begin the process of making new friends and feeling part of a community of friends…

Of course the process of building friendships and creating a sense of community is an ongoing process but to draw the children’s attention to the idea of community and to promote discussion about friendship, we read aloud the children’s book “Little Mouse and the Big Red Apple” by A.H. Benjamin and Gwyneth Williamson during circletime…

“Little Mouse and the Big Red Apple” is about a little mouse that has found an apple and is rolling it to his home for a feast. Although little mouse really isn’t into sharing his apple, other animals help little mouse out of one situation after another so that he can continue to roll his apple towards home….

The apple book was a good way to invite a brief discussion about friends and how they can help us. Then we took a minute to look at a few real apples and make a simple apple pattern followed by a quick name game where each child took a turn rolling the apple (because the mouse rolled his apple in the book) to another child in the group and as they did, we worked on calling out each other’s name…

During center time, the children found construction paper apple, stem, and leaf shapes at the sticky table.  The sticky table is simply contact paper taped to a table with the sticky side facing up …

As the children went to the table, they began to take out the pieces and form their own apples on the sticky table…

I use a heavy brand of construction paper for the sticky table so the paper can be stuck onto the table but also peeled back up without tearing.  A thin construction paper would tear if you tried to peel it back up.  Tagboard would work well too…

The children came and went through out our morning center time adding apples to the sticky table…

Some children put a more unique spin on the apple building process…

And throughout the morning, I invited each child to pick at least one apple, stem, and leaf to set aside for our friendship apple tree that I will share with you in my next post…

A super simple and fun way to explore the parts of an apple and when the children were done for the morning, I peeled the apples that were still on the sticky paper off and set them aside for another day. I then took the sticky paper off of the table and taped it up in our window for our sticky square collage (which I shared with you the other day). As you can see below, the apples came off quite nicely…

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Links to Grow on

We made apple pies in preschool by Teach Preschool

Lacing up apples in preschool by Teach Preschool

Felt Apple Activity by Kids Activities Blog

Paper Plate Apple by Little Learner’s Lounge

By | September 15th, 2012|Categories: Children's Books, Friendship|Tags: , , , |0 Comments