Friendship First began as the curriculum for the acclaimed Brooklyn, New York after-school program, A Playdate Everyday. The curriculum is based on the principle that specific social scripts can help get people out of their isolation, either by overcoming their shyness, or by reaching out to others who are isolated.
A 4-year-old child in our program was alone on the playground watching others play, when the teacher suggested he play with the children. “But they are all the way over there!” he said. We realized that he didn’t know the basic skill of approaching others, much less the skill of what to say when he got there.
That is how the curriculum started: teaching the basics, such as saying hello, asking to play, introducing oneself, asking others their name. We saw that using skits—demonstrating the skill involved—was more effective at teaching the skill than just talking about it. Another aspect of the story of the boy is noticing children on the outskirts. There is a lot of teaching these days about the importance of including others but little information on how to actually do it. Practical inclusion is an important part of the Friendship First model.