Learning How to Be a Friend

By Bella Nesti ’20

Junior-school counselor Lauli’a Phillips ’98 Ah Wong explores the concept of friendship with students in Kindergarten through second grade. From an early age, developing meaningful relationships is a large part of all students’ lives, including, through this lesson, learning how to be a good friend.

“Kids who are really young,” said Ah Wong, “are beginning to explore and establish their friendships, and the dynamics of those friendships.” Second-graders, after two years with the same class of students, can build on this lesson in their new environment, the Sidney and Minnie Kosasa Community, and form new bonds with students around them.

During the friendship lesson, students explore characteristics of a good friend and discuss ways to make new friends. Students shared their own experiences of making new friends and learned the “do’s and don’ts” of friendship, such as inviting new people to join in on activities and not making fun of other people’s interests.

To engage students in the lesson, Ah Wong taps into individual students’ “superpowers,” whether it be a love of hands-on activities or a passion for reading. “They can pick up on something throughout the lesson that they can connect to, and that makes sense to them,” she said. “We all have different ways of learning.”

Friendships naturally change as children grow, and guidance from counselors like Ah Wong can make a big difference in how students understand relationships. “This lesson is just as important for high schoolers as it is for the younger students,” she said.

The learning doesn’t stop after the students leave the classroom. In fact, Ah Wong encourages parents to start a dialogue on friendship with their child, and to think and talk about real-life friendship scenarios that they or their child have experienced. “The topic of friendship is important because you can build upon it in so many different ways,” said Ah Wong. “It’s important for us to learn and understand friendship throughout our entire lifetime.”

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