The second brief in the Fostering Strong Relationships series focuses on ways teachers can support positive peer interactions in the classroom, through intentional relationship-building and social perspective-taking strategies. In it, we discuss the research on the importance of strong peer relationships, the perspectives of educators and students in the schools we visited, and evidence-based best practices for building positive peer relationships.
Fostering positive relationships among classroom peers is important for creating a classroom environment conducive to social-emotional development and academic learning. Research suggests that positive peer relationships are associated with better school engagement – including increased attendance and classroom participation – and can help build students’ sense of belonging in school. Moreover, intentionally supporting peer relationships can provide students with the opportunity to learn and practice both intrapersonal skills and interpersonal skills crucial for whole child development.