Monthly Theme: Friendship

Building and maintaining healthy friendships impacts development and well-being, as friends bring us happiness, teach us different perspectives, and help us navigate challenging life experiences. We may share a lot of similarities with our friends, like the clothes we wear, the color of our hair, and the music we listen to; and we also will find that there are differences in our interests, the way we look, or our personal style.  Friendships hold space for the ways we are similar and different as we learn about ourselves, and deepen our appreciation of others and their lived experiences.  By understanding what makes a healthy friendship, we can improve our current friendships and build powerful new connections with the people around us.

An important part of maintaining healthy friendships is understanding and responding to our emotions, and the emotions of others, in respectful ways. One way you can strengthen your ability to recognize and process emotions is by incorporating Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) into your everyday routine. Check out the January issue of Playful News for more information on SEL and a variety of tools that will help you build SEL skills. 

What makes a good friend?

Just like every person is different, every friendship is different; however, there are some universal qualities we should strive for in our friendships. A good friend is…

Kind, Accepting, Helpful, Inclusive, Thoughtful

What other qualities do you look for in your friends?

What does friendship mean to you?

To deepen your understanding of your personal relationship with the idea of friendship, answer these reflection questions:

  • What does friendship mean to you?
  • How do you know if someone is your friend?
  • What’s important to you about your friends?
  • How do you practice being a good friend?

If you’re looking to make new friends, our inclusive programs offer ample opportunities to connect with other families in a playful setting.

Storytime at JBLM

EFMP Playgroup

Play to Learn

Wee Ones Weekly

Open-Ended Play

Read The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson with T’wina Nobles!

This story explores the many reasons why we feel different from the people around us, and reminds us that we all feel like outsiders sometimes. When we find the courage to connect, even when we feel scared and alone, we invite others into our story.

“There will be times when you walk into a room and no one there is quite like you, until the day you begin to share your stories.”

After reading The Day You Begin, print off our Day You Begin Notebook to engage in conversation and connection as a family, and to practice holding engaging, respectful conversation. Each page includes a question prompt and has space for a written or drawn response. 

What is my child learning?

  • Social Emotional Development: Learning about people and their unique qualities helps children learn to accept and respect all people. 
  • Cognitive Development: Having family conversation time using your notebook encourages children to listen, think, and focus.  This is an important school readiness skill.

12 Books about Friendship

In The Community

Black History Month

Every February we celebrate and reflect on the achievements and history of African Americans in the United States. Black History Month is celebrated all over the country to appreciate, honor, and acknowledge the struggles, successes, and strength of the Black/African American community.

There are many ways you can engage with Black History Month individually, with your family, and within the community.

Check out a book from Tacoma Public Library that celebrates Black History. 

Learn about an African American Hero with this series from National Geographic Kids.

Shop Black-owned businesses at the Waterfront Market at Ruston’s Black History Month Weekend or at the Melanated Market at the South Hill Mall in Puyallup

Join a virtual Black History Month Storytime with Tacoma Public Library and WayOut Kids.

Tour Hilltop’s Black-owned businesses.

Donate gifts to a Tacoma Public School student’s Black Joy Toy Drive.

Children’s Authors and Illustrators Week

The first week of February is dedicated to promoting literacy in children and inspiring a love of reading, writing, and art, and the first Saturday of February is Take Your Child to the Library Day! 

Read one of the books outlined above, take your child or youth to your local library, take home a book from the Playful Little Library at the Children’s Museum of Tacoma, or attend a Storytime session at the Children’s Museum at JBLM to promote reading in your home.

Valentine’s Day

Every year on February 14, we are invited to express our love for the important people in our lives by exchanging cards and gifts and spending quality time together. While romantic love and gift giving are often centralized on Valentine’s Day, love takes many forms and there are lots of ways to express it! 

Two forms of love are familial love, which is the deep care and appreciation we have for our family members, and platonic love, which is the love between two friends. Use these reflection questions to figure out who you’d like to show appreciation for this Valentine’s Day.

Who are the most important people in your life? How do they show their love for you? What are some ways you could show that person that you appreciate them?

Child and Youth Centered Community Survey

Children and youth – we want to hear from you!

What do you love about your neighborhood, school, places you or your grownups shop, and visit? What would you change if you could? 

Answer this short survey customized for each age group to help us think about our community in new ways as we champion children and youth and make our community the best place it can be! 

In appreciation for your time, we’re offering prizes for completed surveys. If you would like to be entered into a drawing to win your choice of a party at the Children’s Museum of Tacoma ($200 value) or a $100 gift card, please include your contact information in the survey.

Caregiver Corner

Friendship in parenting and caregiving

In partnership with Tacoma Urban League, Being the Village is a community and social support group that offers virtual support sessions for Black and Brown mothers. 

Perinatal Support Washington offers a variety of virtual and in-person support groups throughout Pierce County for new parents, women of color, fathers, and Spanish-speaking families. Perinatal Support Washington also runs a free Warm Line staffed by parents and professionals to provide understanding and private support. 

The Family Connects program by Help Me Grow Pierce County offers free nurse support to families with newborns during a baby’s first three months of life and offers further resources for parent support groups.

Helping your child make friends

Parents and caregivers play an important role in a child’s ability to make friends because they are a child’s first and forever friend. By engaging in the friendship activity above, you can role play with your child to help them grasp the dynamics of conversation, sharing, and extending invitations to play.