Beliefs and Practices of Parents and Teachers in Support of Friendships between Preschool Children with and without Disabilities Public Deposited

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  • October 10, 2018
  • Hollingsworth, Heidi L.
    • Affiliation: School of Education
  • This qualitative study investigated the practices and beliefs of parents and teachers with regard to the support of reciprocal friendship dyads including one child with special needs (SN) and one typically developing (TD) child. The study addressed the following research questions through interviews completed by parents and teachers of preschool age children: (a) How do parents and teachers describe the nature and importance of the friendship between the SN child and the TD child? (b) What strategies do parents and teachers use to facilitate the SN-TD friendship, and what factors affect their use of these strategies? (c) What are the similarities and differences between parents' and teachers' beliefs and practices regarding the support of SN-TD friendships? and (d) What types of communication - if any - occur between parents and teachers about these friendships? Parents and teachers reported holding similar beliefs about the nature and importance of friendships, describing most of these preschool friendships as harmonious: characterized by children showing affection, playing well together, wanting to be together, talking about each other, having commonalities (e.g., similar interests), and being compatible (e.g., met each others' needs). The majority of parents and teachers believed specific friendships between two children were important because of the emotional benefits they provided children. Parents and teachers reported using a variety of strategies to help these preschool children become and stay friends, including general strategies that set up the social environment such as encouraging children's social skills in general, strategies that provided opportunities for the two friends to play together such as assigning friends to the same center or arranging playdates, and strategies that helped the friends interact and play with each other such as helping the friends resolve conflicts. Most parents and teachers communicated with each other through informal conversation (and preferred to communicate informally) on a variety of topics relating to specific friendships and most reported being satisfied with this parent-teacher communication. Implications for practice include increasing parent and teacher awareness of the importance of friendship and strategies for promoting friendship.
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  • Buysse, Virginia
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  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Open access

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