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My son is going to be starting preschool this Fall. He has a first cousin close in age that's going to be attending the same school. Is it a bad idea for close cousins to be in the same class? Does that lead to a lot of unwanted competition? Should I talk to the principal about splitting the pair into different classes? Anybody had a good or bad experience with this?

The children see each other on a regular basis, several times a week, and are close.

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    How close of a relationship do they have? Do they see each other on a daily/weekly/monthly/etc. basis? – Joe Jul 7 at 21:48
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    Anecdata: I went to (Caholic) primary/elementary school with two siblings and, although the number fluctuated over my time at the school since we're all of different ages, a total of seven cousins, three of whom I shared classes with. It didn't bother us at all. My friends were typically more interesting to be around, although sometimes we waited together as a family outside the school/church after school and talked to various aunties and uncles. It was probably good to have that extra level of social support, but I just saw my cousins the same as everyone else at school. – alphabetasoup Jul 7 at 22:55
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    competition is only a problem if parents make it one I think? kids are kids and their priorities aren't doing well unless this is imposed on them I think – Joshua Lin Jul 8 at 5:10
  • @Joe Close... twice a week at the minimum – bigO Jul 8 at 14:21
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    This question baffles me. What kind of destructive competition are you expecting that yu don't see now? – RonJohn Jul 9 at 2:48
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Outside of competition, do you have any other concerns? I know many parents may prefer splitting up siblings like twins in school so that they can each open up with other students and not isolate themselves, but I don’t think this would be an issue with cousins. Competition happens naturally with friendships and family so I don’t think splitting them up would prevent this. Growing up my parents compared me with my other cousins and family friends regardless of age, grade, gender etc. so it’s a bit inevitable. I personally wouldn’t mind having them in the same class unless they live together at home and could use opening up their social circle. Good luck with your decision!

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Father of 11 year old twins here.

Our kids were in the same group in pre-school (ages 0.5 to 6), then in different elementary schools (ages 6-9; there was a girls' school nearby that the girl liked and that wouldn't take the boy), finally they started out at different middle schools, but the girl joined the boy in his school & class halfway through 5th grade, and they have been in the same class for over a year now.

I haven't seen any overly concerning dynamics, whether they were together or not. They are different people, and they find their different niches.

I would not be concerned about putting cousins in the same class.

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  • Where are you located that 5th grade is called high school? – Timbo Jul 9 at 1:16
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    @Timbo: Germany. Grades 1-4 are elementary school, 5+ are various types (Hauptschule, Realschule, Gymnasium, Gemeinschaftsschule) of secondary school, which for simplicity I called "high school", since I don't think the school specifics matter too much for the question at hand. – Stephan Kolassa Jul 9 at 5:56
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    @StephanKolassa I guess middle school would be the better equivalent in this case. Isn't there even something called "Mittlere Reife" which (although usually irrelevant at least for Gymnasiasten) separates the early years of secondary education and the later ones? – Nobody Jul 9 at 8:54
  • @Nobody: good point, I edited "high" to "middle". Mittlere Reife is the diploma you leave Realschule with after 10th grade. If you leave Gymnasium (which ordinarily goes to 12th grade) after 10th grade, then you usually don't have a secondary school diploma at all, but many institutions will accept a decent 10th grade report card as functionally equivalent to a Mittlere Reife. (Which is not sufficient to enter university, but is geared more to subsequent vocational training programs.) – Stephan Kolassa Jul 9 at 8:58
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Family or close friends can be a boon or a barrier in school. They can help provide needed confidence, social inclusion and make going to school fun. They can also be a source of stress, keep the child from broadening his social circle or be a distraction.

While I would generally see that the upside trumps the risk here it really depends on one thing:

How is their relationship?

Does your son like this cousin, are they good friends? Would he want to be in one class with his cousin or not? Do you feel the cousin is a generally good influence or do you suspect an unhealthy influence?

These are only questions you can answer but they should answer your question for you.

To add some theoretical underpinnings /examples in most schools in Germany class composition is done with the express goal of bringing kids that already know each other together. If you went to the same Kindergarten, live in the same neighborhood or are related schools will generally try to keep you together thinking this is best for the kids. So from this you can see that the question probably isn't "Should they be in the same class?" but "why shouldn't they be in the same class?".

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  • Me and my cousin were same class from 3rd Grade to 8th Grade. His home was just walkable for me. We were't not very close in school even though we were in same class. It was a bit awkward when we see each other family gathering. I studied little better so his parents got worried sometimes.

  • If we were just simply cousins rather than school mates our mutual respect would have been better and there would have been less chance of having bitter experience each other. But now we are in very good terms.

  • I don't have problems if they study same class in college. We are little more sensitive to events when we are kids. That's why I would't recommend it.

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When I was young, I had a cousin the same age, and one a year older that I went to school with. I don't remember if we had any classes together..... There were no issues.... it is quite common for people from larger families to have siblings, cousins or other relatives in school together. There was even two half brothers the same age.... the father had been married to one woman and had an oopsy with another.

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