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4 Ways to Help Our Kids Socialize and Make Friends

4 Ways to Help Our Kids Socialize and Make Friends

Published: May. 19, 2022Updated: Oct. 5, 2023

School isn’t just about academics — it’s where kids can practice social skills and make friends. This can be difficult, and our kids often need extra support from parents and school staff. How can school teams encourage socialization with peers? How can IEP goals help children with disabilities feel included and make meaningful connections?

On May 12, 2022, we sat down with inclusion expert Dr. Mary Falvey to get the answers to these questions and many others asked by parents during our live event.

Choose a placement at a local school

This isn’t possible for every child and every situation, but Dr. Falvey says two main things are needed to make friends: close proximity and frequent opportunities to socialize. This often happens in our kids’ own neighborhoods. Listen to her explanation in this clip:

Ask for peer volunteers to build relationships

Younger children may naturally play with each other, but what about when our children enter middle school and high school? They may find it harder to make friends when they have so many different classes and no recess (what?!). Check out this clip for Dr. Falvey’s advice for socializing with peers and what to write into an IEP:
During our live event, Shari A commented in the chat, “Our SPED teacher suggested seeing if peers will help my son go from class to class next year in 6th grade.” If possible, making these connections ahead of time can be a great way to help set our kids up for success.

Write socialization goals into the IEP

As Dr. Falvey says, IEP goals are centered around what a child will be able to accomplish or achieve by the end of the school year. That can include making friends. Hear her explain how to write socialization into IEP goals in the clip below:

Identify common interests with their peers

Some parents worry that their kids have a hard time making friends due to not having age-appropriate interests. Identifying why our kids like the things they do can help us introduce similar interests that help them relate with their peers. Dr. Falvey gives great examples in this clip:

If you missed the event or want to review what we learned, you can catch the full recording and transcript here.

To learn more about helping your child get the supports they need, be sure to attend our next live event to ask your questions in the chat and hear from our experts and fellow parents! Keep an eye on our Facebook page to learn more about upcoming events, and join our private Facebook group to keep the discussion going.



Choose a placement at a local school

Ask for peer volunteers to build relationships

Write socialization goals into the IEP

Identify common interests with their peers

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Brittany OlsenUndivided Editor

An editor and cartoonist who loves using words and images to simplify and share ideas. She has ten years of experience as a copy editor and lives near Portland, Oregon. She often spends her free time going on nature walks with her dog or trying new bread recipes.

Reviewed by

Lindsay Crain, Undivided Head of Content and Community


Dr. Mary Falvey, Professor emerita of special education at California State University Los Angeles (CSULA), a former dean of CSULA’s Charter College of Education, and a national authority on inclusive education

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