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New friends

To help children recognize the skills needed to make new friends.

by Jill Fuller

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)

Aims

To help pupils recognize the skills needed to make new friends.

Preparation and materials

Prepare a situation from your own experience when you have been a stranger and a 'new face' in an established community. Make sure you can describe it vividly and be ready to explore the feelings around the situation and the choices about behaviour.

Assembly

  1. Share with pupils a situation when you have been a stranger, perhaps at a party or a meeting. Describe the scene: people all talking with each other, appearing to know each other, sharing jokes and laughter. Some people are already playing a game of cards, or tackling some work together, while you are standing alone, observing - what they are wearing, how they are behaving - and feeling 'out of it'.
  2. Ask the children how they would have felt in the situation: awkward, afraid, nervous, left out, excluded, uncertain, ignored, angry, excited, worried that the laughter is directed at you?
  3. Ask the children to think what might happen next. What advice would they give you? Discuss the possibilities of what you might do. Leave? Sit in a corner alone? Stand at the edge of a group and hope someone will notice you? Approach a group and wait for a good moment to introduce yourself and ask if you can join them? Push into a group and start talking at once?
  4. Now ask them to imagine that they are one of the people already in the room. When they notice the newcomer, what would they do? Ask the new person to join in? Ignore them and continue talking with their own friends? Hope they will go away? Expect someone else to look after them?
  5. Help the children to identify some of the problems of being new. The other people may have different rules about behaviour, different ways of doing things, different jokes. It may take time to understand this. Some things may need to be explained to prevent misunderstandings.
  6. Remind them that Jesus, the most important leader for Christians, showed by the way he lived that caring and accepting others is important. He wanted to create a community of friends. He gave a command: 'This is my commandment to you: love one another' (John 15.17).

Time for reflection

At the beginning of a new term there may be many new faces in our community. In a moment of quiet, let us reflect together on how we can each care for one another and help each other to make friends.

Dear God,
Jesus showed us the importance of looking after our friends.
He introduced lots of new people to each other
and helped them to get to know and learn from one another.
At the start of this new school year,
please help us to be friendly and helpful to everyone.
Amen.

Song/music

'When I needed a neighbour' (Come and Praise, 65).

Curriculum links

  • Literacy: Stories and poems which explore issues around friendship.
  • RE: Biblical stories on the theme of friendship, e.g. Jesus chooses some friends to share his work - the calling of the disciples; four people take their friend to Jesus to be healed - the healing of the man lowered through the roof.
  • Geography: Map work showing where my friends live.
  • Art: A portrait gallery of my friends.
  • Music: Elgar's Enigma Variations - a set of orchestral variations, each being a musical portrait of someone known to the composer. Collecting popular tunes on the theme of friendship, e.g. 'With a little help from my friends', theme tunes to programmes such as Neighbours and Friends.
  • PSHE: Making a book of ideas of the qualities which make a good friend.
Publication date: September 2000   (Vol.2 No.9)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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