Enhancing relationships: What is a friend?

Tagged with:

  • Mental health
  • Relationships With Other People
  • Healthy Communities and Environments
  • Hauora
  • Health promotion
  • Attitudes and values
  • Years 1–4
  • Years 5–8

What is a friend? enhances relationships between class members by asking ākonga to consciously identify the qualities of good friendships. Ākonga are given the opportunity to think critically about, and describe, the attitudes and values that help to establish and maintain friendships.

Two girls laughing.

Understanding ourselves and getting on together — Activity collection

This resource is part of the Understanding ourselves and getting on together collection.

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Possible learning activities

Discuss the characteristics of three types of friends (acquaintances, mates, and best friends) and how friends can contribute to emotional wellbeing and to feelings of self-worth. 

  • Divide the class into three teams – close friends, mates, and acquaintances – and give each team a different coloured armband. Choose an appropriate number of taggers and releasers for the class size. Once ākonga are tagged they have to freeze until they are released. Close friend team members are released by linking arms, mates are released by a high five, and acquaintances are released by a hand shake.

Discuss the qualities ākonga think are important for close friends to have, acknowledging that not everyone has close friends and that few people have more than one or two. Note that different people value different attributes in their friends.

  • Ākonga describe the qualities that they consider important in a close friend and the qualities that they have to offer to a close friend.
  • Discuss with the class how these qualities develop and change over time, and need to be maintained. Remind ākonga that things may go wrong in every friendship, people change and grow, and that everyone makes mistakes.
  • Discuss what being a good friend looks like in digital interactions. 
  • Ākonga prepare two fictitious emails to a kid’s advice column. One is from Sam, who stands around quietly at playtime waiting for someone to ask him to play; the other is from Jess who can’t seem to make friends even though she has told everyone how fantastic she is.
  • Discuss why these characters have difficulty attracting friends.
  • Ākonga write replies to both people with helpful individual suggestions and develop a list of ways that class members might help these ākonga.

Cultural and diversity considerations

All ākonga are part of wider whānau, hapū, iwi, and other community groups. Culturally capable kaiako and tumuaki know, value and integrate the cultural capital of their ākonga into the work of creating positive classroom communities. Classroom programmes dealing with mental health should be sensitively developed so that they respect and reflect the diverse values and beliefs of ākonga and the whole school community.

Kaiako need to be aware of ākonga who struggle to establish or maintain friendships with their peers because of differences such as autism, or who face whānau challenges such as housing instability and change schools frequently. Take care to acknowledge ākonga in these situations and work with them to identify a positive relationship they have with a family friend of whānau member.

Kaiako notes

When constructing the job descriptions, it may be necessary to explain to the class that it is alright to acknowledge both their own strengths and those of other people.

Focus inquiry questions around the learning outcomes before and after the activities to support ākonga to reflect and think critically about the activities.