Beyond the books: How Social Friday is shaping social skills in Swiss schools

In 2020, Mjaftime Zendeli a teacher from Zurich, explored how Social Friday could be included into the school program to engage much younger kids.
Her thesis, which was awarded with the highest score by the “Interkantonale Hochschule für Heilpädagogik Zürich” (Intercantonal College of Special Education Zurich), highlights the systemic gap in children’s development of social skills in Switzerland.

While the technical curriculum only becomes more rigorous, very little is being done to promote and develop social and interpersonal skills. Today we speak with Mjaftime Zendeli the creator of the project.

Social Friday: Mrs Zendeli, how did you come up with the idea to include the concept of Social Friday in the curriculum for 6th grade school?

Mjaftime: When I heard about the idea, I was sure that what applies to adults in everyday work, also applies to children in everyday school life. We educators can also make Friday afternoons more efficient by setting up meaningful projects for our students.

Social Friday: What type of activities did you take with the students to implement in the project?

Mjaftime: In preparation for the project, I promoted personal, social and methodological skills (according to curriculum 21) with a targeted learning setting. For example, by developing and discussing the painting workshops and philosophical questions in group work and revising them in relation to the situation in the retirement center, the learners were able to interact with the elderly people confidently, considerately and skillfully.

Social Friday: What conclusions did you come up with?

Mjaftime: Social Friday with school classes is ideal for promoting personal, social and methodological skills. Since these interdisciplinary skills are central to coping with life, Social Friday made the best use of the school time.

Social Friday: In general, what benefits did you see for the students and what potential do you see in the concept of Social Friday, regarding children’s development?

Mjaftime: I was amazed and touched by the motivation with which my 6th graders took part in the project. After this experience, I believe that young people can and want to take responsibility. However, they need a sense of success and we as adults (be it as parents or educators) must make this possible for them.

With projects like Social Friday we give children and young people the opportunity to change the world (of elderly people). Your positive influence on other people’s world, in turn, has a positive effect on yourself. They have achieved something positive, so their self-efficacy and self-confidence increase. The willingness to get involved socially again is also increasing.

Social Friday: At the end we would like to hear your thoughts as an educator, how can Social Friday improve student’s college experience and their development?

Mjaftime: With projects like Social Friday, we give children and young people the opportunity and time they need to expand their interdisciplinary skills. In my opinion, this doesn’t always go hand in hand with professional skills. The experiences of success and the skills acquired strengthen the learners, so that this can in turn have a positive impact on the entire school learning situation.

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