Facilitating friendship development in inclusion classrooms.
In the Winter 1992 Issue of Childhood Education, Janis Bullock bullock
a mature castrated male cattle destined for meat production or draft. reviewed the research on the importance of friendship to children's development and suggested ways teachers can help children to develop positive peer relationships (Bullock, 1992). Ramsey (1991) also discussed the friendship-making process and why teachers should be concerned about children with behavior characteristics that inhibit friendship development.
Friendship development is even more difficult for children with mild, moderate or severe disabilities. Problems have been documented at both preschool and elementary school elementary school: see school. levels by numerous researchers (Guralnick & Weinhouse, 1984; Roberts & Zubrick, 1992). According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. Debra Kendrick, author of the newspaper column Alive and Well, it is especially unfortunate when children with disabilities have difficulty forming friendships because friends are crucially important for such children. Kendrick, a visually impaired person Noun 1. visually impaired person - someone who has inferior vision
individual, mortal, person, somebody, someone, soul - a human being; "there was too much for one person to do" , writes that although she cannot remember her algebra algebra, branch of mathematics concerned with operations on sets of numbers or other elements that are often represented by symbols. Algebra is a generalization of arithmetic and gains much of its power from dealing symbolically with elements and operations (such as teacher, she will never forget her best friend who, at age 10, taught her how to climb a tree (Kendrick, 1991).
For any child to have a sense of growth and genuine self-esteem, there has to be at least one truly caring, accepting friend. One ordinary garden variety kid-friend can achieve all sorts of miracles "Of Miracles" is the title of Section X of David Hume's An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding (1748). The text
In the 19th-century edition of Hume's Enquiry in learning that a classroom of special educators, speech therapists speech therapist Speech pathologist, speech/language therapist A health professional trained to evaluate and treat voice, speech, language, or swallowing disorders–eg, hearing impairment, that affect communication. See Speech pathology. , and social workers cannot seem to manage. (Kendrick, 1991, p. E7)
Kendrick encourages parents of children with disabilities to make special efforts to help their children develop friends.
Most teachers agree that they are responsible for helping children learn interpersonal skills "Interpersonal skills" refers to mental and communicative algorithms applied during social communications and interactions in order to reach certain effects or results. The term "interpersonal skills" is used often in business contexts to refer to the measure of a person's ability (i.e., sharing, being polite, not fighting, being helpful). Not all teachers, however, feel that they should help children to make in-depth friendships. In fact, blossoming friendships can be disruptive in the classroom and some teachers try to discourage too much interaction by "best pals Best Pal (born February 12, 1988 in Ramona, California - died November 24, 1998 in Ramona, California) was a champion racehorse, who to this day holds the record for purses of any California-bred racehorse, earning his owners, the Golden Eagle Farm, US$5. ." Although they may be generally concerned about children without friends, they rarely plan activities that encourage in-depth friendship development.
As teachers become more involved in incorporating special needs children into their regular classroom settings, however, they may need to rethink re·think
tr. & intr.v. re·thought , re·think·ing, re·thinks
To reconsider (something) or to involve oneself in reconsideration.
re their role in helping children develop friendships as well as general interpersonal skills. Some advocates of inclusion programs, including Robert Perske (1988), encourage teachers to help both nondisabled and special needs children develop friendships within the inclusion classroom. He cites many examples of severely disabled children making friends within inclusion classrooms that promote friendship and notes the positive effects on these children.
Although inclusion classrooms have a number of advantages over self-contained ones, the evidence is unclear about their benefits in terms of friendship development. Earlier research studies on integrated preschool settings indicated that children with disabilities interacted more with adults than peers, spent more time in solitary activity and observation, and were less socially involved. These tendencies increased when the disability was severe (Brophy & Stone-Zukowski, 1984; Crawley & Chan, 1982; Guralnick, 1981). Unless teachers make special efforts to encourage peer interaction within the wide range of classroom members, disabled children may not often be sought after as playmates The name "Playmates" may refer to:
Friendships usually develop when people see similarities among themselves. Children who have obvious differences, therefore, may find it harder to see their common interests and needs. On the other hand, some teachers report that children with severe disabilities are more accepted by classmates Classmates can refer to either:
Having a physical disability or impairment, especially one that limits mobility. See Usage Note at challenged.
n. (used with a pl. children.
Given the complexity of the friendship development process, what can teachers do to encourage friendships in their inclusion classroom? In addition to the suggestions of Bullock and Ramsey, a few general strategies might be especially useful.
* Teachers can establish a climate in the classroom that encourages frequent peer interaction and general social skill development. While some children may already be socially adept, all can benefit by being in a classroom where children are encouraged to work and play together, learn cooperatively and value everyone's contributions. Socially competent children can serve as models and their contributions in facilitating positive interaction can be specifically noted. Less socially competent children can often be paired with more socially competent ones, including those who are disabled. These children's social abilities can be matter-of-factly supported and extended by teachers and by socially competent peers.
* Development of deeper friendships with diverse children can be valued and encouraged by teachers within the classroom and they can share this valuing with parents. Teachers who have an eye for potential friendship combinations can give those potentially compatible children the opportunity to be activity or play partners. Although Oden, Herzberger, Mangione and Wheeler (1984) found that these dyads have slightly different qualities, children usually consider play friends and work friends to be very similar (Cooper & Edwards, 1985). If a combination seems to have potential, the teacher can inform the parents that the children would benefit by being able to spend some time together at home or in other nonschool settings. One thing adults often forget is that it takes time and frequent contact for a true friendship to develop. Opportunities to be with the potential friend outside of school are as important as in-school interaction.
* Specific social skills training may be useful for children who have disabilities that result in behavioral problems or lack of interaction skills. The basic skill development may have to be in an out-of-classroom setting, but it can be reinforced within the classroom by recruiting socially competent children as coaches. Sometimes nondisabled children who have difficulty interacting with their peers are particularly empathetic em·pa·thet·ic
empa·theti·cal·ly adv. to children with disabilities. Because their self-esteem may be enhanced by being a helper for a special needs child, they may also gain in social competence. Of course, teachers need to make sure that the rejected or neglected child has the potential to give friendship.
* The meaning of quality friendship and the characteristics of good friendships can be discussed as a classroom topic. Often children interpret being friends with some persons as meaning they should obviously exclude or devalue others. Children need to learn that having a deep friendship with one or two persons does not mean that different levels of friendship cannot also exist with
others. Teachers can stress the inclusiveness of friendship and the value of having many friends, including cross-gender friendships. All children can be made aware of the importance of extending friendship to disabled children. Perske believes that children should be made specifically conscious of their ability to provide "circles of friends" within the inclusion classroom.
Even if teachers do not choose to plan specific strategies to encourage in-depth friendship development in their classrooms, just by being more aware of the importance of friendship development they can subtly change the inclusion classroom climate. That alone may make the world seem like a friendlier place for all children.
Brophy, K., & Stone-Zukowski, D. (1984). Social and play behaviors of special needs and non-special needs toddlers. Early Child Development and Care, 13(2), 137-154.
Bullock, J. R. (1992). Children without friends: Who are they and how can teachers help? Childhood Education, 69, 92-96.
Cooper, C., & Edwards, D. (1985). Playfriends and workfriends: Developmental patterns in the meaning and function of children's friendships. In J. L. Frost & S. Sunderlin (Eds.), When children play. Wheaton, MD: Association for Childhood Education International.
Crawley, S. B., & Chan, K. S. (1982). Developmental changes in free-play behavior of mildly and moderately retarded re·tard·ed
1. Often Offensive Affected with mental retardation.
2. Occurring or developing later than desired or expected; delayed. preschool-age children. Education and Training of the Mentally Retarded Noun 1. mentally retarded - people collectively who are mentally retarded; "he started a school for the retarded"
developmentally challenged, retarded , 17(3), 234-238.
Guralnick, M. J. (1981). The social behavior In biology, psychology and sociology social behavior is behavior directed towards, or taking place between, members of the same species. Behavior such as predation which involves members of different species is not social. of preschool children at different developmental levels: Effects of group composition. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 31, 115-130.
Guralnick, M. J., & Weinhouse, E. (1984). Peer-related social interactions of developmentally delayed young children: Development and characteristics. Developmental Psychology developmental psychology
Branch of psychology concerned with changes in cognitive, motivational, psychophysiological, and social functioning that occur throughout the human life span. , 20(5), 815-827.
Kendrick, D. (1991, March 8). Special children need friends most. Alive and well. The Cincinnati Enquirer En`quir´er
n. 1. See Inquirer.
Noun 1. enquirer - someone who asks a question
asker, inquirer, querier, questioner , p. E7.
Oden, S., Herzberger, S. D., Mangione, P. L., & Wheeler, V. A. (1984). Children's peer relationships: An examination of social processes. In J. C. Masters & K. Yarkin-Levin (Eds.), Boundary areas in social and developmental psychology. New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of : Academic Press.
Perske, R. (1988). Circles of friends. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.
Ramsey, P. (1991). Making friends in school. New York: Teachers College Press.
Roberts, C., & Zubrick, S. (1992). Factors influencing the social status of children with mild academic disabilities in regular classrooms. Exceptional Children, 59(3), 192-202.
Doris Bergen is Professor and Chair, Department of Educational Psychology, Miami University Miami University, main campus at Oxford, Ohio; coeducational; state supported; chartered 1809, opened 1824. The library has extensive collections in literature and American history, including the William Holmes McGuffey Library and Museum and the Edgar W. , Oxford, Ohio Oxford is a college town located in the southwestern portion of the U.S. state of Ohio in northwestern Butler County in Oxford Township, originally called the College Township. The population was 21,943 at the 2000 census (approximately 16,000 students are included in this figure). .