Helping Your Children Make New Friends This School Year
By: Sara Rossman, MA, CCC/SLP
Is your child starting kindergarten, going to a new school, or returning to school but there will be new students in the class? Here are some tips for ways to help support your child as they navigate making new friends this coming school year!
1. Role play a conversation.
Pretend to be a new friend (you can even give yourself a new name) and have your child practice initiating a conversation! Include practice in follow-up questions. Talk about expected times to have conversations (snack time, recess, lunchtime) and unexpected times (during class, when transitioning, during quiet reading time).
2. Practice flexibility.
Engage in an activity with your child that YOU chose. While you are playing, explain how during school, your child will not always get to pick the activity, but a good friend is someone who is flexible, takes turns, and plays games that others want to play!
3. Play a game!
Play a board game. This will help your child practice turn taking and being patient when it is not their turn. Be sure to model common phrases such as “my turn”, “your turn”, “I got a 3”, “wow that was a good roll!”. Also remember to show good sportsmanship by saying “good game” and giving a high-five when the game is over, win or lose!
4. Make a friend file.
Write down 3 things you enjoy and have your child write or tell you 3 things they enjoy. Explain how everyone likes different things and good friends take interest in what their friends like. Model how to ask questions about other people’s interests, then give your child a turn to ask you the questions!
5. Reinforce and Praise good social skills.
Throughout all these suggestions, when you observe your child practicing appropriate social skills, give them direct praise! Tell them exactly what they did or said that was expected so they know to do it again!