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Promoting Acceptance and Friendship

“All children have a place in early childhood and elementary classes that celebrate differences while remembering that even in the presence of human differences, all children are more alike than different.”

—From The Making Friends Program by Paddy C. Favazza, Michaelene M. Ostrosky, & Chryso Mouzourou

Friendships and other social relationships are vital to the well-being of every young child. As an early childhood professional, you play a key role in supporting authentic friendships among children of diverse cultural backgrounds and helping the diverse children you work with learn to accept and celebrate their differences.

Use the recommended resources on this page to create a welcoming, inclusive learning environment where all children enjoy strong social connections and feel like they belong.

Articles and other online resources:

8 Ways to Show Young Children that Diversity is a Strength (Brookes)
Learn how framing differences in cultures, languages, and backgrounds as a strength can help young children understand diversity and improve classroom experiences for all children.

3 Ways to Help Young Children Respect and Accept Diversity (Brookes)
Read this blog post for strategies that can help you encourage friendships and respectful social interaction among all the diverse children in your classroom.

11 Ways to Encourage Friendship Skills and Social Play (Brookes)
From greeting games to scavenger hunts, these simple strategies can foster friendships and social play among all children in your classroom.

Teaching Young Children to Understand and Accept Differences (Lesley University)
Explores how anti-bias work in preK classrooms can help children be more empathetic and understanding of diversity among their peers.

4 Tips to Facilitate Friendships in the Inclusive Classroom (Friendship Circle)
Brookes author Nicole Eredics highlights 4 important things you can do to facilitate friendships between all children in inclusive classrooms.

Why and How to Encourage Cross-Racial Friendships among Children (Embrace Race)
Learn from this in-depth Q&A with Professor Amber Williams, who researches the prevalence and importance of cross-race friendships among children.

The Importance of Friendship in Preschool (HiMama Blog)
See why friendships are so important in preschool, and learn how you can facilitate friendships in your own classroom.

Teaching Friendship Skills in Preschool (Edutopia)
Promote healthy ideas about friendship and foster a positive preschool culture with these practical tips and ideas.

The Power of Friendships in Early Childhood (Storypark)
Jane Bertrand from the University of Toronto discusses socio-emotional responsiveness, cognitive responsiveness, and scaffolding.

Recommended for you:

The Making Friends Program

Bullying prevention starts with helping young children understand and accept diversity—the earlier the better. That’s why your school team needs this ready-to-use, research-based resource, a simple, fun, and effective way to promote social acceptance in the critical early years of attitude development.

Learn more »

Merrell's Strong Start Pre-K

This field-tested, age-appropriate curriculum makes it easy to give young children a strong foundation of social-emotional competence. Teach the skills young children will build on and use for the rest of their lives—being a good friend, managing anger, resolving conflicts, and more.

Learn more »

Social-Relationships and Peer Support

Discover how to foster meaningful friendships and helping relationships among students in inclusive classrooms. This practical how-to guide gives you ready-to-use strategies on everything from teaching social skills to making peer instruction work.

Learn more »

Building Blocks for Teaching Preschoolers with Special Needs, Third Edition

Expanded with timely new content and consistent with DEC Recommended Practices, the third edition of this bestselling book prepares early childhood educators to teach and include every child. Includes a dedicated chapter on friendships and social relationships.

Learn more »

Unpacking the Pyramid Model

Created by the Pyramid Model developers and experts with extensive training experience, this book provides a step-by-step overview of the Pyramid Model for Promoting Social Emotional Competence in Infants and Young Children. Includes a chapter on creating a culture of friendship in your classroom.

Learn more »

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