How Friend Files Can Teach Building Friendships and Sparking Conversations

Check out this article to learn how Friend Files can support the skill development need to build peer-to-peer relationships.

For many children, interacting with their peers can be tricky! Part of building strong relationships is showing an interest in those around us. Created by renown Speech-Language Pathologist Michelle Garcia-Winner, MS CCC-SLP, Friend Files can support the skill development need to build peer-to-peer relationships. First developed for children with social-pragmatic language disorder, Friend Files have now expanded to becoming part of many elementary school’s socioemotional curriculum. It can target the following skills: 

  • Initiating Conversations
  • Maintaining Topics of Conversations
  • Turn-taking in Conversation 
  • Perspective Taking/Theory of Mind
  • Question Formulation
  • Category Identification
  • Narrative Formulation 
  • Working Memory
  • Recall 

And many more! 

So….what is a Friend File? 

It is a visual aid in the form of a manilla folder in which we store information about our friends. You can find an example of a Friend File by clicking HERE.  


And for those of us doing teletherapy, you can use programs like Power Point, Canva and more to create digital versions for children. 


For younger children, using drawings or pictures is the best way to go. Older children can use a written version. Parents and caregivers can support the child in using the Friend File to ask questions of siblings, peers, whomever, to add to their Friend Files. Easiest place to start is FAVORITES! We all have a favorite food, animal and something we like to do! In asking another person their favorite food (mine: chips and salsa always and forever) the child is exercising multiple expressive and pragmatic language skills: 

  • Question Formulation
  • Initiating Conversations
  • Working Memory
  • Theory of Mind 

For a step-by-step visual aid that illustrates the steps of making a friend file, click HERE

The other person constructing a Friend File, whether it be a sibling, caregiver or peer can return the question and they are exercising: 

  • Question Comprehension
  • Conversation Maintenance 

If a conservation is sparked, fantastic! For our younger learns, often practicing the reciprocity of asking the questions and collecting the personal information for the friend file is PLENTY at this time. 

Now, we’ve come to the most important step. Filing this new information away in our brains! I suggest taking the folder, lifting it over your head (the children will do the same with theirs) and pantomime filing it away in your brain! Repeat this step after gathering each new favorite or piece of information and you’ll turn into filing robots and start laughing in no time. 

As an added bonus, when the children have collected all their new pieces of info for their Friend FilesREVIEW what they learn. For John, he learned his friend Ryan loves bullfrogs, fishing and ice cream, and he loves ice cream too, they have a same-same! A same-same can be labeled when the students find something they have in common, reinforcing that friendship is most often built on some common interests while honoring difference in passions. Skills targeted during this portion include: 

  • Recall
  • Sentence Formulation
  • Narrative Formulation
  • Working Memory
  • Perspective Taking/Theory of Mind 

For caregivers and educators, our goal is to foster supportive, joyful environments for children. One of the biggest areas in which a child learns social communication skills and socioemotional development is through friendship. Friendship can look like many different things, there’s not one way to be friends for us to build successful, lasting relationships. All it takes is a little knowledge of another’s interest. When we talk about things our family and friends care about, that gives them positive feelings about us, and in return, they will discuss our interests and the cycle continues! 

Here are some additional resources for continued learning: 

  • For a simple Friend File outline, click HERE
  • For a simple PowerPoint outlining Types of Friendships, click HERE
  • Boys Town Press has a number of books for a variety of ages and interests 

Stay tuned for the Friend File Sequel: How to use Friend Files to Maintain and Shift Topics During a Conversation. 
 

 

We hope you found this post helpful. Click HERE to learn more about what services and supports South Shore Therapies has to offer. Results that make a difference.

Have a question for us or topic you want to learn more about? Send us an email at socialmedia@southshoretherapies.com. 


 
 
 
 

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