Research on adolescents sense of belonging in schools is plentiful; however, there is an obvious lack of research conducted in early childhood years. Friendship groups have been shown to be impactful in helping students feel like they belong in school. This study explores how kindergarteners talk about friendship in the context of belonging in a two-way immersion school. I pay particular attention to the role primary language plays in developing a sense of belonging and friendships at school. The 19 kindergarteners in this study were interviewed in small linguistically homogenous groups of 2 or 3 students. Each focus group was shown 2 puppets that represented one English-speaking and one Spanish-speaking child. Students were then asked to help each puppet understand what it would be like to be a new student at the school and what they would need to know to fit in. Findings reveal that these students recognize the utility of language for doing schoolwork and fitting into the institution of schooling, but did not highlight the importance of language as a necessary tool for making friends. Students focus on the importance of understanding the social context in order to belong at school. More research is needed regarding how school programs and social context influence the development of friendship.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Teacher Education

Date Submitted


Document Type





belonging, friendship, kindergarten, language, two-way immersion