Supporting Peer Relationships

With our support, preschoolers may be ready to engage in play and friendships with their peers

two children hugging on playground

What You Need to Know

As children grow, many will begin to show interest in their peers, a desire to play with other children, and develop close bonds with playmates. Preschoolers need your help to make and maintain friendships. You can do this by explicitly teaching social skills (e.g., discussing books or scenarios, modeling skills), providing children with opportunities for repeated practice interacting with peers, and intentionally partnering children. This allows children to watch and learn from others who are successfully navigating social interactions.

What It Looks Like

A quick glance at how you can support preschoolers as they develop peer relationships

Be a Super Friend

Acknowledging and focusing on positive peer interactions help children as they work to make and build friendships.

Peer Planning

Providing extra support through peer pairing encourages children to think about who they are going to play with and what they are going to do.

Model How to Play Together

Talking about how to play with friends is one way to promote positive interactions among children.


Supporting Peer Relationships

In this webinar, educational coaches Stephanie Adams and Caitlin Powell present strategies we can use to support peer relationships in a virtual, hybrid, or physically distanced classroom environment.

covid 19 webinar slide with kids in different learning environments


Supporting Friendship Skills

Young children may be starting to show interest in their peers.  They need our support to make and maintain friendships.


The Power of Play for Healing Trauma

Before fully engaging in interactions with peers, children exposed to trauma may need extra support to feel safe. This Childhood Education International brief presents ways in which play can help address these children’s needs.


Working with Families to Support Peer Relationships

This article from Raising Children Network (Australia) discusses how preschoolers make friends and what teachers and families can do to support peer relationships.


Supporting Young Children's Friendships

Some children with disabilities need extra support to connect with peers. This podcast describes the importance of early friendships and strategies to support children as they interact with peers.


Books to Support Peer Relationships

page of the book, The Night is Yours


Written by Zetta Elliot and illustrated by Purple Wong, this is a simple, yet beautiful story about a friendship between a child with autism and a typicially developing child.

Thank You, Omu

Written and illustrated by Oge Mora, Thank You, Omu is a story about how small acts of kindness, like sharing, can bring a community together.

The Night Is Yours

The Night Is Yours, written by Abdul-Razak Zachariah and illustrated by Keturah A. Bobo, is a story about a little girl who makes sure to include everyone in her game of hide-and-seek.

Little Elliot Big City

Little Elliot Big City, written and illustrated by Mike Curato, is a story about a small elephant who faces some challenges throughout his day. But with the help of a new friend, no challenge is too big.

Activity Cards for Preschool Classrooms

Part of the STREAMin3 curriculum, these activity cards provide simple and fun ways you can help children connect with others
relate card that says hello goodbye

Hello, Goodbye!

Provide opportunities for children to greet or say goodbye to each other across the day.

relate icon that says partner clapping

Partner Clapping

Encourage pairs of children to sing Pat-a-Cake while clapping hands and sitting in a criss cross position.

partner yoga

Partner Yoga

Yoga can be a fun way to connect. Challenge children to pose with a partner and work together.

relate car that says telephone


Practice teamwork, communication, and listening with a game of telephone.


Get Our Resource Guide

Includes questions and activities to guide your use of the videos, book suggestions, and activity cards featured for each of our core social-emotional skills