The beginning of preschool was the beginning of many new friendships. It’s during this special, even magical time, the early childhood years when kiddos learn (optimally in a PLAY situation) and hone their social skills. They go from being somewhat narcissistic to being able to see things from other people’s point of views. Social interactions between kiddos develop important traits like compassion, empathy and kindness as well as cooperation, collaboration and sharing. In other words, what it takes to make and be a friend.
The general story line:
How do you define what a friend is? Friend (and friendship) is the theme explored in the delightful book, Together We Can, I received from B.E.S. Publishing. What I noticed first about this book by Caryl Hart was the title. I LOVE its message of unity and overcoming the odds. It’s a belief I happen to share! We’re stronger together in the United We Stand kind of way.
Together We Can is more of an extend nursery rhyme in that it consists of rhyming verse. This is perfect because it give kiddos a chance to anticipate what word will come next and increases their chance of retaining new vocabulary. As you might have already known, what with my Go PLAY Activity Cards™, I’m a huge fan of nursery rhymes for children. (Why Nursery Rhymes are Important)
In the book, friendship is discussed in various settings: At home, school even at the playground. I also believe we’re more alike than we are different so I appreciate how the story highlights friends who don’t look the same. Since ALL children need, and must PLAY, it made my heart happy to see, reflected in the illustrations by Ali Pye, children of different physical abilities.
Of course a child’s temperament influences their need for friends. Extroverts needing more, introverts less, but everyone needs a friend. The story emphasizes reaching out to those who might be lonely; those without any friends. Sometimes children don’t have an easy time making friends. And, sadly, sometimes friends move. But that doesn’t mean the friendship has to be over OR that you can’t make more friends. Thankfully, contained within the Together We Can, are tips for making and maintaining friendships whether near and far!
Parents can use children’s books like Together We Can as a resource to develop in their kiddos an understanding of how people can have many of the same qualities even though they may look differently. Another aspect of the book that’s unique and useful is the illustrated ‘cards’. Found, at the beginning and end, are all kinds of examples of how a child can be a friend. One of the most important things I did at preschool was to help kiddos find their voice. Whether it was through offering up their opinion; dictating a story; creating a list; or anything else that gave them an outlet to speak their mind. So, for example, with a friends theme, I would start with a general picture (like the one below) and just the beginning of a sentence for them to finish anyway they want.
My Friend and I…
Possible responses could be:
· like to play with Legos.
· both have curly hair.
· live next to each other.
More often than not, kidlets would share what they liked PLAYING with their friends. This, of course, was music to my ears as I know PLAY especially supports their social and emotional development. Speaking of music…One song I always made sure to share with the preschool classes was Make New Friends. Some years, we were able to actually do the song in a round—talk about beautiful!
Reading stories together are wonderful ways parents can use to bring up sensitive or difficult topics; to find out what their kiddo knows or feels about a subject and/or to teach new concepts. Together We Can is a positive book you’ll want to add to your collection!
Yours in PLAY!