Subscribe now and recieve 50% off all our ebooks as well as updates on all our online special needs resources.
Nicole Eredics
BY Nicole Eredics

4 Tips to Facilitate Friendships in the Inclusive Classroom

Friendships are an important foundation in the inclusive classroom.  Aside from being physically included in the curriculum and day-to-day activities, a child with special needs also needs to genuinely feel included. This feeling of inclusion stems from a sense of belonging and relating to other children in the class. The sense of emotional well-being and stability derived from friendships allows students to be more receptive and open to learning new concepts as suggested by recent research in the field of neuroscience.

Teachers have an essential role in creating and maintaining the friendships amongst the students in the inclusive classroom. This can be done in several different ways:

1. Identify Interests

By identifying the various interests of the class, the teacher is taking one of the first steps to helping the students identify with one another.  Allowing the students to express their interests through discussion, surveys, games, and school clubs will help them discover other students who are like-minded.

2. Highlight Strengths

Regardless of academic ability level, each student has strengths and skill sets that teachers can recognize and highlight. By doing so, students can feel valued and confident amongst his/her classmates. For example, a student who may not excel in math may be an exceptionally talented soccer player.  Teachers can highlight student strengths during class discussions, projects, and leadership opportunities.

3. Emphasize Social Skills

In addition to creating classrooms where students feel welcomed and friendships are encouraged, there is an effort to maintain these friendships. This is often done by embedding a social skills component in the curriculum. Within this curriculum, students are taught skills such as how to communicate and problem-solve. In addition, there are activities scheduled in the day when the students are encouraged to use their social skills such as during a class meeting or group discussions.

4. Provide Opportunities

Above all, teachers need to provide students with opportunities within the school day to create and maintain friendships. Despite the heavy emphasis on academics in today’s education system, students should have the chance to be social with one another.  Allowing time in the early grades for centers, giving older students group projects, or designing lessons, which encourage student interaction all facilitate connections and relationships amongst one another.

Nicole Eredics

Written on July 22, 2014 by:

Nicole Eredics is an elementary teacher who has spent over 15 years working in inclusive classrooms. She is also a parent, advocate and education writer. Nicole is creator of the blog The Inclusive Class, where she regularly writes about inclusive education for teachers and parents. She can also be found on Twitter at @Inclusive_Class, Facebook at The Inclusive Class, and Pinterest.
  • Pingback: 4 Tips to Facilitate Friendships in the Inclusive Classroom | Hope and Voice Journal()

  • Pingback: Teachers Are Essential to Facilitating Friendships in the Classroom()

  • Elise (Kids Included Together)

    Wow!!! This is wonderfully-written. What important tips for educators to make their inclusive classrooms truly inclusive. Thank you so much for sharing these necessary tips!

    • Nicole Eredics

      Thank you, Elise! I’m glad you found this helpful 🙂

  • Pingback: 4 Tips to Facilitate Friendships in the Classroom! « My Therapy Company My Therapy Company()

  • Pingback: 4 Consejos para facilitar las amistades en el aula inclusiva | NDSC en español()

  • terespain

    Hello! Thank u very much for the tipos. I am doing a research about friendship in educational fields. What I found out is that when se create the conditions for the Dialogic Learning with its 7 principles, you allow form friendships to be created . the 7 principles are: egalitarian dialogue, solidarity, transformation, equity un diversity ( tolerance and respect) , …

  • Talitha Guittin Cooreman

    Hello, thanks for this wonderful article! I’m a french Phd student (despite my 44 years of age…) , working on disability within the catechesis of the catholic church. I would be very much interested to see how the teaching of the Church could become more inclusive and how it could promote inclusive friendships. Do you know of anyone with a similar interest?

  • Jennifer C.

    Thanks very much for this article. How can parents of special kiddos who are in inclusive classrooms best support them and how can we best support the teachers and administrators? Many thanks for any tips you can share!


Notice: Use of undefined constant fbTracking - assumed 'fbTracking' in /var/www/ on line 52