Good friends make life better.
But how do children learn to make those friendships?
And how do they cope with the rollercoaster ups and downs of being friends, not-friends, best friends and old friends?
Canadian schoolteacher Dana Kerford has visited Scotch Oakburn College’s junior campus to run two friendship workshops, giving children the tools they need to make and keep good friends.
Founder of URStrong and the Friendology 101 program, Ms Kerford is living in Sydney expanding the reach of her healthy friendships program, which she first began for girls in Canada in 2009.
“I noticed my students, particularly my girls at the time, weren’t doing very well in a math test if they’d had a fight with a friend,” she said.
“I saw the way that these conflicts in friendships were completely overwhelming them, to the point where they couldn’t think about anything else.”
Searching for practical resources to help her students navigate friendships, Ms Kerford couldn’t find anything to suit – so she set about creating her own six-week program.
“The changes that I saw in the girls were just unbelievable,” she said.
“I always say that those 53 girls and those six weeks completely changed my life – it really changed the culture.”
Now renamed URStrong, the positive friendship curriculum encompasses boys and girls, and is used in Canadian, American and Australian schools.
On Tuesday at Scotch Oakburn, Ms Kerford ran workshops encouraging children to talk more with parents about their friendships, and giving parents the tools to identify good and bad relationships.
“I truly believe if kids are given these skills at a young age – how to create healthy friendships, how to stand up for themselves, how to put a voice to their feelings – that’s the foundation for everything else,” Ms Kerford said.
Scotch Oakburn Junior School counsellor Megan Booth said the Friendology 101 program would run throughout the school term.