Teach Mama Talks: Talking to Kids About School Friends

This educational idea is brought to you by Melissa & Doug , written by our Blog Ambassador Amy Mascott.

“Sometimes really important discussions can evolve from the most unusual situations, so as parents, we have to be ready at all times! ” -Amy

My youngest child, Cora, recently entered the wilds of Kindergarten, so this year has been quite a change for us. After two years of preschool with the same small group of  classmates, it’s been hard for her to open up about her new classmates.

talk to kids about school friends

Every day she has a story about the words she has learned, which “special” she had (music, art, P/E), but she doesn’t talk much about the people in her class.

Like many parents, I’ve been so curious about the dynamics of her class: Who does she play with? Who is well-behaved? Who is not? How does Cora treat her classmates? How do they respond to her?

talking with kids about school friends

talking with kids about school friends

Then suddenly, I got the inside look I’d been seeking. It was out of the blue, and it was an eye-opener:

Cora asked me what she should write a story about. “How about school?” I suggested.

“Yes,” she said. “It will be called ‘Class Friends’ and it will say every person in my class.”

Without hesitation, she started writing. We talked through the sounds of each word, spelling each child’s name. My answers were coming!

talking with kids about school friends

talking with kids about school friends

Then she froze. She got through about 10 names, and she said, “I can’t think of anyone else. How can I finish my story if I can’t remember my friends’ names?”

I grabbed the magnetic doll set she had been playing with earlier. I said, “Let’s look at each doll and think hard about whether you have someone in your class who looks like her. That will give you a good start.”

“Can you picture someone who might have eyes or hair like this girl?” I held one up.

“Oh, I remember. Her name is . . . ”

talking with kids about school friends

talking with kids about school friends

In this way, we talked through every person in her class. Starting with physical features like hair, skin, and eye color, Cora named a number of classmates. Then we moved onto clothes: Does anyone wear shoes like this? Which girls wear dresses like this?

With each person she remembered, she wrote a name in her story.  And every few names would spark an interesting fact: ”He has dimples when he smiles. But he also pushes at recess.” Or, “She always plays with me during center time.”

We casually talked through different responses and strategies for dealing with some of the situations she mentioned, but it was always kept light and with the focus of finishing her story. And soon we did.

It was a great–completely impromptu–conversation that I could have never planned, but it’s one that I am so glad we had.

We used Best Friends Forever! Magnetic Doll Set in this post, but almost anything could be used as a substitute, particularly Make-A-Face Sticker Pad, Create-A-Face Sticker Pad, or Fashion Sticker Pad.

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amy mascott @teachmama profileHang with Amy over at teachmama.com for more cool, super-sneaky ways to throw in some learning in the name of fun or join her at we teach–a forum for parents and teachers to connect, share ideas and grow–no matter the classroom. Or tweet with her (@teachmama), pin with her or chat with her on Facebook!