Year 7s Focus on Friendships

When you ask children about school, they are most likely to tell you about their relationships. The social-emotional aspect of education is incredibly important to the way kids feel about school, the way they perform, and their overall wellbeing.

At Santa Maria, we strongly promote connection with others as a protective and empowering factor in our girls’ education. For this reason, the theme of our Year 7’s whole wellbeing program is ‘I belong’.

Friendships are vital relationships in a child’s development, especially in early adolescence. It is at this time in their lives that children start to turn their focus away from their parents and more towards their peers. However, they are beginning-learners in this sphere of their social development, so often make mistakes. They can be impulsive and say and do things they regret. They fall into their competency gaps and it is up to the adults in their lives to help them learn and grow from those experiences.

As part of the College’s Mental Health Strategy, we promote the development of friendship skills and an understanding of healthy friendships. To this end, our Year 7s recently had their second session on friendship with Research Officer and writer Linda Stade.

Linda, and College psychologist Beth O’Regan, delivered the first session in the girls’ Transition Week at the beginning of the year where they talked about making new friends and what healthy friendships look like.

In the latest session, Linda talked about the inevitable issues that arise in friendships at school. She discussed:

  • Gossip and its effects
  • Friendship firestorms, which are the dramas that grow and grow when everyone gets involved in other people’s conflict
  • Giving each other a chance to be themselves and shine
  • The power of pausing before reacting
  • Friendship myths and facts

Dean of Year 7, Tania Hicks said, “In helping students understand that it’s normal to experience conflict in a relationship, we also try to equip them with strategies so they can resolve conflict in a positive manner. Linda’s presentations to the Year 7s have been invaluable in this way”.

As a follow-up activity, the Year 7s made lanterns in PCT to remind them of what Linda said about building friends up instead of tearing them down. “When someone else shines, it doesn’t dull your light. There’s enough light for everyone.”

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