A few weeks ago I read a very interesting story about a school overseas that has something called “friendship benches”. Apparently it started out with just one of the lower grades having a bench but then it spread to the whole school and they ended up having several.
I thought the whole idea was seriously cool.
Most of us know what it’s like to go to school and not have any friends. Whether you are new at that particular school or maybe you only have one special friend and they are not there for whatever reason. It’s okay during classes, because you are listening to the teacher and doing your work, so you don’t really have time to feel lonely or misplaced. But it’s a really horrible feeling to be all alone and not know what to do with yourself during break time or lunch time.
It’s even worse when you have to watch everybody else is running around, chatting and generally having fun.
Imagine having a bench – where you would feel comfortable to go and sit if you are feeling alone and sad, wishing badly you had somebody to talk to.
Everybody else would know that’s the friendship bench and they would make an effort to come and chat to you, or even just sit with you so that you don’t feel so sad and alone.
Maybe it would work even better if a rotation of kids (who had volunteered for the job) were assigned to keeping an eye on the bench to see if anybody was sitting there. I mean, it would not be very useful if everybody thought somebody else would take up the challenge and then nobody actually did it – would it? Then the poor person sitting on the bench would feel even worse.
Often people are shy – and they come across as being full of nonsense, or stuck up or snotty which really isn’t the case at all. They are just really shy.
After all – a stranger is just a friend you have not yet met!
Of course – this does not mean that you should go and sit next to strangers and start chatting to them in public spaces – especially adults. That’s not a very clever thing to do. But in a school environment – it’s perfectly safe.
Why not try something like this out in our schools.
Have a happy day.