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Enhancing relationships: friendships across the lifespan

Possible learning activities

  • Supply groups of two to three students with a large sheet of paper and pens.
  • Students can divide the paper into eight sections and label these with the following age groups: 0–4 years, 6–12 years, 13–19 years, 20–40 years, 50–65 years, and 65+ years. 
  • For each age group, students brainstorm as many different types of friendships as they think people of that age might have with others, such as with parents, friends, workmates, or pets. 
  • Identify the important features of friendships for each of these age groups, for example, nurturing, sharing secrets, company, or love. 
  • Each group reports back a sample of their ideas. Try to establish an understanding with students that, across our lifespan, we share similar needs but that the nature of these needs and who fulfills them in relationships will change. Discuss what support is available or how we can all help meet the needs of more vulnerable groups, such as the very young and the elderly. 
  • Possible extensions to this activity can be found in Circles of Trust on page 186 and Exploring Friendships on page 180 of Taking Action: Life Skills in Health Education.
  • Individually, students can identify qualities that they value in their friends. (Refer to page 179 in Taking Action: Life Skills in Health Education for a strategy to use and to Qualities in Friendship on page 181 for more detail.)  In small groups, students share their ideas and each write a different quality on a separate card. These cards are shared out between group members. 
  • Students each take turns to place their card on a continuum labelled “Very Important”, “Quite Important”, and “Not So Important”, giving their reason for choosing that place. When it is their turn, other students in the group can change the position of a card, explaining their reason for doing so. When the group has reached a consensus (or an agreement to disagree), all groups share their continuum with the whole class. After discussion, students again individually record those qualities that they most value in friends and reflect on any changes they have made as a result of this learning experience. This activity could be followed by: Positive Aspects of Friendships, Fears about Friendships, and Blocks within Friendships in Taking Action: Life Skills in Health Education, pages 182–184.

Suggested Learning Outcomes

Students will:

  • identify and describe the features of healthy friendships (4C1)
  • identify and describe the importance, diversity, and changing needs of friendships (4C1)
  • describe the different roles that they undertake in a variety of friendships (4C1).


(particularly taha whanau, taha hinengaro, and taha wairua)

Identifying the features of successful friendships, enhancing emotional well-being, and strengthening self-awareness, personal identity, and self-worth.

Socio-ecological Perspective

Exploring the changing features of friendship across the lifespan and exploring the need for mutual care and shared responsibility between self and society.

Suggested learning outcomes

Students will:

  • identify important qualities in friendships (5C1)
  • celebrate positive experiences within friendships (5C1)
  • identify difficulties in friendships and develop strategies to overcome these (5C1).