For posts on bullying, visit The Learn to be Buddies Series Blog.
All images and posts written by and copyright to Amanda Clements (nee Gray) 2009-2012 unless otherwise indicated.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Friendship or Interest Groups

Connecting children with other children who are interested in the same activities is a great way to increase the changes of lasting friendships developing. Using friendship or interests groups is one way to do this.

In the Classroom

- Seating arrangements: Seating children in groups rather than rows is a good start in helping to connect children. Grouping students using your understanding of their personalities and interests can further increase the chances of friendships developing. For example, you might get students to make suggestions about names for teams. Once they have names, get children to nominate which group they would like to be in. This could tap into interests such as sports, animals and colours.

- Social skills lessons: Using the PDHPE curriculum to teach children social skills in the context of games, sports and other "bonding" activities can promote friendships. For example, get children to nominate their favourite games and/or sports. Take turns using these as part of your lessons.

At school

Interests groups: Schools (especially high schools) often have drama, music, chess, computer and sporting clubs or activities that occur during break times. These structured and supervised groups are a good way to connect children with their peers if they struggle to do this due to the lack of structure in the playground. If you can find a club/interest group that matches the student's particular interest this will help them gain a sense of belonging. If there is no established group that taps into the child's interests, look into organising one.

Shaddock, Giorcelli and Smith (2007) tell of a mother who organised what she called a "Friendship Building Group" for her son with Down Syndrome. She was actively involved in promoting awareness about her child's strengths and difficulties, and meeting with her son's buddies to discuss any social issues. You might want to speak to your school about the possibility of setting up a "friendship group" where you send invitations home with students to participate in a once-per-week activity you organise on the playground based on your child's interest.

At home

Extending on what was done at school, the mother mentioned above organised activities such as a once a month BBQ for the children who connected with her son and their parents. She stated that "it was at these get-togethers that the parents would learn about James and feel more confident in inviting him over to play." (Shaddock, Giorcelli and Smith, 2007 p22).
"Playdates" are also a good way to connect children. If your young child does not have any specific friends at school, it is best to start with buddy systems and interest groups. But once these have connected your child to peers, you can increase the chances of these connections developing into friendships by establishing "playdates" that revolve around their common interest (like watching a footy match, or playing chess, or playing Nintendo etc).
Helping other parents understand your child's strengths and difficulties could also help extend the friendships, and increase the chance that your child may be able to visit their friends' homes. Sharing information can help deal with the fears or misunderstandings other parents might have about your child. The mother mentioned above wrote a note for other parents about her son's strengths and difficulties as well as having the monthly BBQs.
A great resource:
If you are looking for easy-to-access information about inclusion, whether you are a teacher or parent, the booklet "Students with Disabilities in Mainstream Classrooms: A resource for teachers" by Shaddock, Giorcelli and Smith (2007) is a great place to start. It has information relevant to both primary and high school teachers, both academic learning and social inclusion.


About This Blog

You are welcome to browse as you like... but please remember that everything here is copyrighted. To receive printable copies of articles that you can hand out to others, subscribe to the Learn to be Buddies newsletter at

Copyright Amanda Gray 2009-11

  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP