Friendship skills are arguably the most important things learned in the early elementary years. If we are truly educating the "whole person", it is not enough to teach academics and nothing else. A person with low social skills is not going to do well in building important family relationships, or in performing any collaborative work.
We help children learn positive socials skills in many ways, including being positive examples, and by providing many opportunities for play. We also do many assignments in work groups, where children practice give-and-take. In play and work, children practice cooperation, communication, emotion regulation, and empathy.
Today, we read several stories about special friends, including the final chapter of our shared read-aloud, The Stories Julian Tells. This chapter was called, "Gloria Who Might Be My Best Friend". We followed with an activity where we sat in a big circle. Each child looked to the child at their right, and gave examples of positive attributes that person had that made them a good friend. After everyone had a turn, we wrote down what we had said on construction paper links, and made a friendship chain.
Then I challenged each student to think of a way that THEY could be a good friend. Each child got their picture taken "thinking" about something that they will do in the new year:
These photographs are arranged outside our classroom door, as a replacement for the superhero pictures. Please check them out - they will make you hopeful for the world.