Promoting friendship development in inclusive early childhood classrooms: A literature review
The purpose of this literature review was to describe research findings related to how teachers could support friendships in inclusive early childhood classrooms, with particular interests in friendship development for young children with disabilities. This literature review was conducted to examine the following two questions: (a) How are friendships between young children with and without disabilities defined and measured? and (b) What teaching strategies and intervention programs does research recommend to promote friendships between young children with and without disabilities? The following criteria were used to determine the inclusion of articles: studies included teachers, were conducted in inclusive early childhood classrooms in the United States, had measures for friendships, and were published in peer-reviewed journals between 1990 to 2018. A total of eight studies were identified. The results of this review demonstrated that across all studies there were several common characteristics (e.g. mutual liking, spending time together) in defining young children’s friendships. The studies reviewed also included various methods (e.g., surveys, interviews, observations) to measure friendships and suggested effective strategies and intervention programs that teachers could use to support friendship development. However, results also showed that teachers did not readily use the evidence-based practices. Based on the results, implications for future research and practices are discussed.
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