Effective Practice Guides

Relationships with Other Children: Know

Goals for Infants and Toddlers

  • IT-SE 4. Child shows interest in, interacts with, and develops personal relationships with other children.
  • IT-SE 5. Child imitates and engages in play with other children.

Teaching Practices


Model and demonstrate how to communicate with others during routines and activities.
Ms. Sydney, a family child care provider, cares for the children of migrant families. She scoops 10-month-old Violet out of her crib saying, “I heard you gurgling so I came to see if you are ready to get up. Let’s go check your diaper.” She carries Violet to the changing table and gently places her on her back. “Now, let’s unsnap your pants so we can get you a clean diaper.” Violet gurgles back to her. “That’s right, Violet. I think you are special, too.” Violet keeps gurgling.

Comment on and support children’s use of emerging social skills, such as sharing and using words to express ideas and needs.
Ace, just turned 2, and Jaime, 20 months, are standing beside each other at the water table. Ace watches Jaime squeeze the water from a sponge. Jaime reaches for another sponge and hands it to Ace. Ace smiles. Their teacher, Mr. Jack, kneels down and tells a story to the toddlers, “Ace and Jaime were playing at the water table. Jaime saw another sponge and gave it to Jaime. Now the two friends are playing together.”


Offer play materials and activities that encourage two or more children to use them together.
During a group socialization, home visitor Ms. Peyton shows a basket of fabric swatches to Ami, 7 months, her sister, 20-month-old Kate, and their mother. Mom watches as Ms. Peyton takes a piece of satin, Ami grasps a piece of corduroy, and Kate takes some fleece. Ms. Peyton gently rubs the satin on each child’s cheek. Then, she encourages mom to show Kate how to rub the fleece on her cheek. Ami waves her corduroy. Her mother says, “Do you want a turn, too?” and then helps Ami rub the corduroy on her cheek.

Arrange the setting so children can see what’s going on around them and move freely without encountering obstacles or getting in each other’s way.
Four-month-old Zarah lays on a blanket under a tree. Ms. Ilene, her family child care provider, talks about what they see. “Look, Zarah, this leaf is bright yellow.” She holds the leaf where Zarah can see it. Together, they watch 2-year-olds Justin and Sierra who are getting ready to play catch. Ms. Irene guides Justin to get his wheelchair in a good spot, “Move a little bit forward.” Sierra tosses the ball to Justin. “I got it,” he says. “Sierra’s turn now.”


Observe and identify children’s interests and temperaments and group them with peers who share the same characteristics.
Milo, 6 months, likes to watch the other children and is content to wait for someone to approach him. Leon, 7 months, is a seasoned crawler whose favorite activity is moving from place to place. Their teacher, Ms. Foulks, knows both boys love bananas. At lunchtime, she sits them next to each other and says, “You are both crazy about bananas.” The children laugh and reach out to each other with sticky hands.

Keep track of each child’s social development and provide support to enhance and build new social skills.
Amira, 26 months, is new to the toddler room. As a dual language learner, most of the time she communicates in Arabic. Mr. Yancy sees Amira watching a group of children “cooking” dinner. She looks like she wants to join in. He helps her put on an apron—the other children are all wearing aprons—and puts one on himself. Next, he takes her hand and together they join the group. He says to Kaylie, 28 months, “Amira wants to play, too. Can you please show her how to stir the stew?” He turns to Amira, “They are making Kawag.”

Goals for Preschoolers

  • P-SE 3. Child engages in and maintains positive interactions and relationships with other children.
  • P-SE 4. Child engages in cooperative play with other children.
  • P-SE 5. Child uses basic problem-solving skills to resolve conflicts with other children.

Teaching Practices


Read and discuss books, tell stories, and comment on what it means to be a friend.
Lately, Ms. Hansen and Mr. Ingalls have heard several children say, “You can’t be my friend,” to children they usually play with. They decide to read and discuss some books about friends. With the children, they will make a list of things that make someone a good friend. They choose the Dog and Bear series as a good place to start.

Remind children of the steps involved in using problem-solving to solve a problem.
Although Ms. Reed introduced the problem-solving steps and strategies to the preschoolers in her class, they are forgetting to use them. With the help of the persona dolls, she tells a story about a disagreement they are having. Then she encourages the children to help her remind the dolls how to use problem-solving to find a solution.


Provide duplicates of popular items and the equipment and materials needed so all children can take part.
In her family child care home, Ms. Elliott sets up two easels at a typical height and one on a table top at the right height for 4-year-old Bailey’s wheelchair. For the younger children, there are stubby brushes, and for the older ones, brushes used for more delicate painting. Bailey is an avid painter and she has access to many colors. For the younger children who are most interested in the process of painting, color choices are more limited.

Lead games that teach children how to cooperate, take turns, and accomplish a shared goal.
At a group socialization, the children are playing a game of cooperative musical chairs. Their parents and home visitors set up 10 chairs in a circle and Jackson’s mom, Ms. Grant, turns on the music. The children walk around the chairs until the music stops, then quickly sit down. Sofia and Nolan don’t get a chair so they double up with friends. Ms. Grant takes away one chair and then the game continues. They keep playing, with more and more children piling on each chair, until it is no longer possible to seat everyone. The adults and children are all laughing by the time the game ends.


Scaffold a child in learning how to establish and maintain friendships.
Three-year-old Jane takes part in planned activities, such as science experiments, but typically plays alone. Ms. Como thinks Jane needs help in learning how to join the others in play. She sits with Jane and narrates what’s going on in the dramatic play area. “DeAndre puts on the doctor’s jacket. Luise gathers the stuffed animals. I think they’re playing vet. Remember when we went to the see the vet’s office? Maybe you could help Luise gather the animals.”

Invite two children who rarely interact with each other to do a task together so they can get to know each other.
Noodin and Azaadi live near each other on the reservation and both attend Head Start. Nevertheless, they don’t often play together. Ms. Bettie, their teacher, thinks the boys have a lot in common and would enjoy doing an activity together. She pairs them to sort photos of animal tracks by the number of toes in each track. Later, the group will share their ideas about which animals made which tracks.

Topic:School Readiness

Resource Type: Article

Last Updated: December 3, 2019