Home-based childcare offers children a unique opportunity to form friendships with their peers. Some children will form firm and lasting friendships with the other children they meet in your house. Other children, on short term placements, must learn to make friends quickly, and then move on.
As childminders, it is our role to encourage the developing friendships we see among the young children we look after. As we help young children learn the social rules of joining in with other children (such as taking turns and sharing) we watch them learning how to make and keep friends.
At two years old, it is normal for children to play alongside rather than actually with other children. Proper friendships with other children form from about three. This is the age at which children first develop the ability to respond to the wishes and feelings of others, and to think about things from someone else’s point of view. Four and five year olds will want to choose their own friends and by five it is hoped that most children are capable of forming and maintaining friendships.
Childminders can help small children by teaching them to be aware of their own feelings so that they can learn to be sensitive to the needs, views and feelings of others. Talk with children about what would they do if they made someone feel unhappy. Talk about saying sorry. Praise and reward all good behaviour. Challenge bullying in any form – it is not acceptable and does lasting damage.
What are the key points I should tell the children?
- It’s nice to make friends
- Treat others as you would like to be treated
- Share and take turns and people will like you
- Include other children in your games
- Learn to respect differences
- Bullying is unacceptable
Products that can help you to explore ‘friendship’ themes
Childminding Best Practice Club – themed packs
Join the Childminding Best Practice Club and get monthly packs of themed activities emailed to you. As well as art projects with templates, each pack includes a planning guide to help you plan around a theme.
Be Safe, Be Healthy Pack
Printable safety and health art projects, activities and colouring pages to help childminders to teach 14 safety and health topics including bereavement, road safety, stranger danger, and sun safety and fire safety. Pack includes a section on making friends with activities and craft projects.
Diversity Awareness Pack
Printable diversity craft projects and printable diversity colouring pages to help childminders to teach 20 diversity topics including disability, religion, race, families and multicultural holidays. Pack includes a section on making friends in childminding settings, your childminding setting as a changing ‘community’ and ideas for promoting ‘kindness’ in childminding settings.