Published: 2021-04-01

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Developing a supportive peer environment: Engaging students through cooperative skills in the classroom

blankpage John S. Saroyan

Children with peer acceptance problems struggle to fit in among classmates and often feel rejection and social isolation.  Common reasons can stem from a child’s unique personality, individuality or special needs issues.  These children often experience emotional problems and symptoms resulting from poor social relationships and difficulty fitting in to their environment.  Within the classroom, teachers may provide encouragement and support for these children as well as their better adjusted peers, helping them equally engage through improved understanding and acceptance.  In this article, a cooperative classroom approach is discussed to help students develop healthier communication with mutual respect and the freedom to be their natural, core self.  A Democratic Student Council is presented as a cooperative classroom activity that encourages peer compassion and openness while supporting individuality and feelings of belonging.