This qualitative study set out to explore how five early childhood educators perceive and promote friendship in a toddler room, a preschool room, and a kindergarten room of an early learning center in Ontario, Canada. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to explore educator’s perceptions about friendship and their reported strategies for promoting friendship. Observations of each classroom explored educator’s strategies used to promote friendship in practice. New sociology of childhood and developmental theoretical frameworks were used to explore educator’s perceptions and strategies.
Educator’s perceptions about friendship were placed on a continuum ranging from perceptions that aligned with new sociology of childhood to developmental theory. The reported and observed strategies were categorized into active, reactive and passive strategies. Implications of these findings for practice, policy, and research were discussed.