Belonging and including

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It’s about being a part of a group … not apart from a group.

What do we mean by belonging?

When we belong to a group, we feel we have a place in it or a right to be part of it.
Groups can be of any size and makeup. Often they are made of people who share a common passion or interest – for example a group of friends, a band, or a sports team. They can also be made of people who share something else in common – for example being from the same community, religion, or country; or having special needs.

What do we mean by including and excluding?

To belong to a group we have to feel included in it by its other members: we must feel that they welcome us into it, or at least agree with us being part of it. Sometimes we have to make an effort to be included in a group (like practising our music for band, or learning a new language); sometimes we are automatically included (like being born blind or a Kiwi).
If we don’t feel included in a group, we can feel excluded from it.

Why is belonging important?

When we belong to a group, we feel accepted, respected and supported by it. It can form part of our identity (who we feel we are). Not only can this make us feel good about ourselves, but it usually makes us want to join in its activities. When we belong to a group we know that there are others like us on whom we can rely in good times or bad, so it can make us more resilien .

If someone feels excluded from a group they want to be a part of they might feel sad, rejected or angry. If they can’t find another group to join, they might feel lonely and vulnerable. It can also be hard for people to value, understand – or even care – about groups to which they don’t belong. 

We may belong to some types of groups all our lives.

There are also lots of groups to which we may belong for a while only.

Can you think of some examples of each type?

How can we belong to groups or include people in them?

There’s a lot we can do to include people in groups or belong to them ourselves:

Belonging Including
Accept invitations to play and invite people to join us in return; join in group activities in school and outside it Invite people to play with us at school and at home – especially if they’re new in town  
Join sports, games, music or community groups Welcome people into our play, sports, music or community groups
Offer to help others and show that we appreciate their help and friendship; contribute to groups Share things with others – toys, sports’ gear, our time, our friendship
Try to understand or fit in with the customs of another group, community, culture or country; maybe explain yours to them Ask someone to tell us about their different ability, lifestyle, culture or country; avoid judging people before you get to know them
Keep an open mind, be ready to take on new ideas and experiences and give everyone a “fair go” Keep an open mind, be ready to take on new ideas and experiences and give everyone “a fair go”


One-eighty.org., n.d. “Belonging – Why is it so Important for Children to Feel like they ‘Belong’ around Other People?” Retrieved from: http://one-eighty.org.uk/belonging-blog/ 4 December 2017.
National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, Republic of Ireland, n.d. “Identity and Belonging”. Retrieved from: http://www.ncca.biz/Aistear/pdfs/PrinciplesThemes_ENG/ID&Belonging_ENG.pdf 5 December 2017.
Women and Children’s Health Network, 4 May 2017. “Feeling Lonely”. Retrieved from: http://www.cyh.com/HealthTopics/HealthTopicDetailsKids.aspx?p=335&np=287&id=1800 4 December 2017.
Women and Children’s Health Network, 14 November 2016. “Prejudice – Not Giving a ‘Fair Go’”. Retrieved from: http://www.cyh.com/HealthTopics/HealthTopicDetailsKids.aspx?p=335 &np=287&id=2348 4 December 2017.

Useful links

Life Ed factsheets “What is Empathy?”[HO5] , and “What is Resilience?”

Read but not cited:

Bilmes J, (2012), ‘Beyond behaviour management’, 1st Ed, St Paul, Minn, Redleaf Press.
Teach Preschool, 28 July 2014. “Every Child Needs to Feel Like They Belong”: author Deborah Stewart. Retrieved from: https://teachpreschool.org/2014/07/28/every-child-needs-to-feel-like-they-belong/ 4 December 2017.
Women and Children’s Health Network  “Social Skills” http://www.cyh.com/HealthTopics/HealthTopicDetailsKids.aspx?p=335&np=287&id=2905

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