Friendship isn’t necessarily an education buzzword, but it is an imperative component of all of our lives. Having people who care about us and we care about, outside of our family structures, allows us to have people to confide in, social supports in difficult times, and a sense of belonging. Children often first learn about disagreements, compromise and empathy through their first friends.
But, for many, friendships can be hard. Making and keeping friends can be one of the most difficult and stressful activities some people do during their lives. Humans, in general, crave the benefits of friendship, but many struggle to understand the mechanics of making it happen.
The beginning of any friendship starts with the ability to identify common interests. A common interest could be your like (or dislike) of certain sports, video games, books, or other activities. Often if you can identify one common interest with a person, you can find more. This is the seed that can blossom into a life-long friendship.
In early 1999, I met a friend at Miami, Cheryl (Floyd) Cook, who I shared many common interests with. Through the years our interests have evolved and changed from late nights out and current fashions to the best diaper brands and if the Browns can figure out their special teams issues. My friendship with Cheryl gained me the introduction to Noble Academy in 2015 when Zach and I were considering moving to Greensboro. I believe her friendship is one of the most influential components of my life and deserves full credit for my career in Independent Schools.
At Noble, we know that understanding social constructs and gaining the skills necessary to create friendships, is as necessary and important as learning long division. Having just one close friend, like Cheryl, can be life changing and we want to see all of our students grow and thrive socially. Our counselors, deans, and faculty work hard to help students learn the skills necessary to make and keep friends through social thinking curriculum and the PEERS program. Participation in athletic teams, drama productions, group projects, and leadership clubs also helps to foster these skills and opportunities. Many students identify friendship as one of their primary goals of school during their admission process, and it is absolutely our goal to help make new and strong friendships a reality.
If you are interested in reading more about how you can help your child make friends, I highly recommend the book The Science of Making Friends by Dr. Elizabeth Laugenson. Dr. Laugenson is the lead researcher and author of the PEERS Curriculum, which is a social skills curriculum for children and teens with Autism Spectrum Disorder. I spent three days at UCLA with Dr. Laugenson being trained in this curriculum and her work is fantastic.