Fostering Inclusive Friendships

Fera Gunawan Times News

We have a wonderfully diverse student population at JKCS! Each and every learner comes with their own set of strengths and stretches, interests, and preferences. Although we are all unique, we also have a lot in common. We all desire to have a sense of love, acceptance, belonging, and community. Our hope is that all of our students will be able to develop meaningful, lifelong friendships within our community and beyond. For some of our friends at school, there may be factors that make it difficult to make or maintain friendships. They may have been born with a difference that impacts their ability to learn to speak. Some friends even use a device such as an iPad or talker to be their voice. Some of our friends may face big emotions that make them have trouble staying in the “green zone” and making good choices with their bodies or words. We have staff who know what to do to help them to learn how to use calming strategies to feel better. Some friends may have trouble understanding social rules and may need extra help to know what they are supposed to do in different situations. It is important for us to recognize that even if we are different from one another, we can still be great friends! Our students, teachers, and support staff work hard to help foster genuine relationships between all our students. As you partner with us, here are some helpful things to consider when supporting your child to develop inclusive friendships:
Support perspective taking skills by helping students to imagine what another person feels or thinks. Could they be feeling frustrated? How might you feel in a similar situation? How can we be a good friend to our peers who are having a tough time?
Be patient. Some friends need more time to share what they are thinking or to learn new skills. We can wait to hear what they have to say and encourage them to keep trying.
Consider ways to connect in and out of school. Maybe you can plan a playdate together or encourage your child to explore their common interests with other students. There are books and activities that we can all do together.
Let’s work as a team to make John Knox an inclusive school where everyone feels loved and supported!
Lindsay Tafazzoli
ESS Coordinator, Elementary