Over the past two months, I’ve been hearing the children at Elm House use the word friend in a new way. While they are used to referring to each other, as a group, as “the friends,” it wasn’t until about two months ago that I heard some of the children start indicating that someone specific was their friend, that they felt a special bond with another child.
“Lucy is my friend. I want to see Lucy,” I often hear Adella say.
“Where is Luca? Luca is my friend. Luca is my best friend!” says Hannah.
So I’ve been talking with the children a lot about friends. Who is your friend? Who would you like to play with? Let’s invite a friend to join us. These are all things I might say. Or I might notice a joyful moment between two children, or hear one child asking for another and say, “I can see that you are friends.”
One day I was helping a group of children use the toilet, while Laura helped another group of children to get their coats and boots on in the cubby room. From the bathroom, we could hear Isaac crying quite loudly for a long time. Hannah was using the toilet, and she noticed Isaac was crying. She wondered what was wrong, and said she wanted to talk to him. I asked her if I could give Isaac a message from her, and then I wrote down what she said.
I then walked over to the cubby room and said, “Isaac, Hannah wrote this message for you” and then I read it to him.
He stopped crying after that, and held onto the note as he got ready to go outside. I think it’s clear that Hannah’s message made him feel much better, much more welcomed and “seen” at school that morning. Friends know just what we need to make us feel better.
Often, parents ask me about my bond with your children, and tell me about how much your children talk about me and have warm things to say about me and the other teachers. While I always love and appreciate hearing these things, in my mind, I think the bonds the children have with each other are much more important to them. I would love to overhear parents telling other children that their child spoke of them at home. So I wonder, do you ask your child about who their friends are at school? Do they mention any of the children, or even have stories to tell of other children?