Did you know that friendship is as important to our well-being as eating right and exercising? What’s more, friendships help us grow through each year of our lives. The friends we meet in school teach us how to be patient, wait our turn, reach out, and try new hobbies. When we move into young adulthood we learn more about taking responsibility, finding a career path, and seeking out people as mentors.

Friends Help Us Interact With Just About Everyone

The people we bring into our lives as friends will show us how to forgive, laugh, and make conversation. We learn how to interact with people because of our friends, even the ones that are opposite from us or share a different worldview.

Friends Keep Us Mentally and Physically Strong

One of the most overlooked benefits of friendship is that it helps keep our minds and bodies strong. In fact, it’s as important to our physical health as eating well and keeping fit. A recent Harvard study concluded that having solid friendships in our life even helps promote brain health. Friendship is equally important to our mental health. One study even suggested spending time with positive friends actually changes our outlook for the better.

Friends Help Us Weather Lonely Times

Friends don’t completely cure loneliness (that’s a common myth) but they do help us during lonely times. We learn how to accept kindness and also to reach out when we need help.

Friends Improve the Quality of Our Lives

Friends can change our value system so we learn to inject more meaning into our lives.

In spending time with friends, we fill up our lives with great conversation, heartfelt caring and support, and laugh out loud fun. When we fall on hard times, friends are there to put things in perspective and help us. When we have success, they’re smiling at our good fortune. With down-to-earth, positive people in our life we will be more mindful of gratitude and doing nice things for others. We don’t just live when we have healthy friendships, we thrive.

For more of this article, visit

"Friendship improves happiness and abates misery, by the doubling of our joy and the dividing of our grief."
–Marcus Tullius Cicero

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School-Wide Friendship Activity Ideas

  • Host a No One Eats Alone Day in the Cafeteria
  • Create a Buddy Program that pairs whole classes of older and younger students for academic and recreational activities.
  • Host a Friendship Picnic with conversation starter challenges to facilitate friendly conversations
  • Start a We Dine Together Club

Parent Connection

We are hardwired to be in relationships, both with family and with friends. Yet 5-10% of children experience chronic peer relationship difficulties. These types of challenges have been linked to loneliness, depression, anxiety, school problems, and compromised physical health.

Questions emerge. What are the necessary skills that children need in order to develop and maintain friends? How can adults promote these skills?

Research indicates four major developmental areas that directly support “friendship skills”. Use the following lists as a starting point in exploring activities that you can use at home or in school to foster friendships between peers.

1. Cooperative play

Starting in older preschoolers, cooperative play demands the integration of many social skills when the play involves other children and they play together towards a common goal.

2. Language and communication

The ability to communicate, according to theorists such as Vygotsky, is essential in the development of reasoning and higher cognitive functions - both contributing to the development of friendship skills.

3. Emotional understanding & regulation

A child who is depressed, frightened, anxious or angry will find it very difficult to use the pro-social behaviors required to foster friendship. Children who can understand their own emotions can develop the ability to manage themselves in social situations.

4. Aggression control and problem solving

Feelings of anger and frustration are normal and healthy. How a child manages these feelings and how they approach finding a resolution is key to building trust and commitment between people in a friendship.

For more of this article, including strategies to facilitate development of these skills, visit

Coming Attractions:

SEL Summer 2019 Professional Development Descriptors

Sanford Harmony

Sessions are intended for initial school training or school faculties in need of a “booster” for strong implementation for the 2019 school year. The school principal will host the training at their site. Contact Traci Wilke to secure a morning or afternoon session on Thursday, June 6. Stipend Paid

Creating Relationship-Centered Learning Communities (Elementary and secondary sessions offered)

Participants will learn strategies and structures designed to foster socially and emotionally safe learning environments. In addition, methods to integrate the five competencies into your daily instructional practices and routines will be emphasized. Intended audience includes all content area teachers, coaches and administrators. See catalog and Frontline for registration details. Stipend Paid

Social and Emotional Learning for School Improvement Kick-Off (Principal Selected Training; Elementary and secondary sessions offered)

SEL engages the entire school community in creating caring, motivating, and equitable learning environments that promote social, emotional, and academic growth. Explore strategies to develop a strong school-wide SEL foundation designed to strengthen Adult SEL and promote SEL for students. The team will have ongoing guidance and support opportunities through a series of Canvas modules during the 2019 school year as they develop and implement their action plan. Intended audience includes school-based SEL Team, School-improvement Teams, and/or PBiS Teams. Limited to 6 team members. See catalog and Frontline for registration details. Stipend Paid

Summer Lions Quest Talent and Leadership Development

Our Lions Quest consultant, Sue Keister is a CASEL SEL Specialist and considered a pioneer in the field of Social-Emotional Learning. Her complete biography is included below. Mrs. Keister will facilitate the following during this 3-day professional development series:

June 17 (8:30-4:00): Basic Lions Quest PD for 1-2 identified middle schools consisting of teachers and administrators. Principal will contact Traci Wilke if interested. Principal Selected Training; Stipend Paid

June 18 (8:30-4:00): School-wide SEL Integration for school teams designed for those already implementing Lions Quest. Teachers and administrators will learn how to strengthen facilitation of class-wide curriculum, instructional strategies and school-wide SEL integration. See catalog and Frontline for registration details. Stipend Paid

June 19 (8:00-12:00): Building Capacity for District-wide SEL Implementation is designed for identified school and district leaders including the SEL Task Force. The goal for this session is to provide technical guidance and support in developing St. Lucie Public Schools’ SEL Implementation Plan. Stipend Paid

Register on Frontline or contact the SEL department with any questions :)

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