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My 6 year old just started first grade, but to our surprise he was assigned to a different class from his former (from last year) classmates.

The ones that did not transfer schools at least, but he is all alone (aka knows no one yet) in the new classroom, while all of his friends are in the next room.

I am negotiating with the school to switch him into the other class, but the chances are slim.

In the scenario where the school do not switch him, what steps can I take to handle this split?

What are the pros and cons of being split from former classmates, and what can be done to maximize the first and minimize the second?

  • Sounds tough! Does his new class share recess time or lunchtime with the other class, or will he not encounter the other classmates at all during the day? Does he have close friends from that class whom he plays with outside of school? – Joe Jan 26 '15 at 22:04
  • @joe The doors to both classes are 15cm apart. He can (and did) go there every recess in the first day, and was reluctant to go back to his own class. The kids (from last year's class) gather once or twice a month, for a visit to the arcade, someone's birthday, or just hang at the sandbox. – Mindwin Jan 27 '15 at 0:37
  • Did the school give any reason for doing so? It seems a strange thing to do... – Layna Jan 27 '15 at 7:22
  • It is my fault, actually. I had to undergo a very delicate surgery and missed the enrollment renewal period because I was unable to leave the bed. – Mindwin Jan 27 '15 at 11:04
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While I can appreciate that most kids make friends easily, from experience, it still can cause more harm than good by forcing children into situations to continually make new friends and break the bond they have with their current close friends.

My daughter was with the same group of friends for junior and senior kindergarten, but then in grade 1, she was placed in a class where she only had one male friend she new from the year before. My very energetic, positive little girl who was extremely enthusiastic about learning became very quiet and introverted. As a result, the other children in her new class who had been together for years began to pick on her, and she became desperately attached to the one little boy she knew because he would stick up for her.

We tried to wait it out, give her time and encouragement to make new friends, however by the time we said enough is enough, the school said it was too late in the school year.

Children need comfort and to develop trust with other people. It is the same principal of needing stability and consistency that experts say children suffer from a lack of when they frequently change schools, but worse because they are dangling the old life in front of her.

Please also bear in mind that my daughter was always very ahead of the game, and her former teachers would praise her and pointed that both academically and socially she shined. A few months into the school year last year, the teacher started sending notes saying that she was showing no interest in completing school work or participating. While I don't want to place the blame entirely on her social situation, it is important to note that her home life has been very stable. Mum and Dad still working the same jobs, she was still participating in the same extra curricular activities and there was no excessive fighting with her siblings.

She also remained very social at her dance studio, maintaining some of her old, and making new friends there just fine.

We just brought her in to school today to find that this year she is again with a bunch of different kids, and her one best friend is now back in the class with all their old buddies and she is even more alone. Watching her stand at the school wall with her new class, isolated and alone, while all of her old friends laughed and joked ten feet away left both her and I in tears. We will be going to the school tomorrow to see what can be done.

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Don't worry, most kids at that age make new friends very easily. He will blend in within a few weeks. If needed, encourage him to seek contact with other classmates that are "new" and did not know any other kids the first day of school.

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You do not need to worry about your son making friends.

Kids that age are really good at being social. He may be a little distant in the beginning, but he'll quickly make friends. Assuming the classes have lunch/recess together, then your son will also be able to see his old friends during that time.

Furthermore, kids get switched back and forth between those classes regularly. When I was in school, about 50% of the kids in each class got swapped back-and-forth each year. This was in part to help broaden our social access, and build a larger community for ourselves when we eventually went into middle school and high school. I imagine that there are other parents in your situation where their kids got put in the "wrong" class.

Worst case, if your son has problems making friends, there's quite a few things you can do. But the most important thing is don't force it. If your son feels like he's being forced into having certain friends, it will probably backfire.

For more information, and some more tips, I refer you to this great article: http://www.babycenter.com/0_how-to-help-your-child-make-friends_67771.bc

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I am 13 and in this situation. It's tough, especially when you are a middle school girl, but if I managed to make new friends, your little kid can. Tell him to make new friends at lunch, or play kickball with someone else at recess. 1st grade is a wonderful time where everyone likes everyone.

  • Pro: he can get out of his shell and get to know others
  • Con: he's gonna miss seeing his friends...that's inevitable. He can minimize this by hanging out with them recess if he has it and lunch.
  • Hi Cassie and welcome to the site. Thanks for the personal details, that can be very helpful in cases like this. I edited your answer some to make it meet our standards; in general, you should not use text-speak or excessive abbreviations in answers here (See the FAQ for more information). – Joe Jan 30 '15 at 16:37
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I really feel for the daughter and for User 29556, herself. I do not think that Schools properly bear in mind the psychological and emotional effect of putting young children into a class of totally unknown classmates. This can really disrupt bright but sensitive kids. I went from 'gifted' (at preschool) to 'a bit dim' in a term. I was just so unhappy in those 3 months.

Having made good friends I then deliberately sabotaged any assessment tests we were given. They suspected this but a sudden change of teacher and then recovery from a serious accident kept me where I wanted. When Primary was over, I felt confident about senior school but on the first morning found I had been re-streamed. I did not know a single classmate. This happened again at sixteen, when I won a scholarship.

When I look back at school I remember my so called 'dimmer' Primary classmates. We were all so friendly it was like a second family. Many have done very well. I did fine academically but school taught me about loneliness in a group, three other 'outsiders' and I eventually became friends.

I would advise parents in this situation to be carefully pro-active,- not pushy but tactical. Enlist your child in any activities that they like, gently get to know and chat to friendly Mums of nice kids at the school gates. This all involves some discreet assessments. But unlike myself my son was never left to sort it out completely on his own. The result has been more confidence when starting Uni and work. I was labelled very gifted at 16 but dropped out of school after one term of feeling too alone. I made up for this,- too quickly really- with my career. I am relating all this as an example of how parents who just do nothing to help in these situations can end up with a child who suffers from social unease and, even anxiety. Very light handed, careful 'interference' in the situation can work wonders.

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