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Help a Mom: Child upset friends assigned to different class

Posted August 14, 2012

Here's a back-to-school question for you:

My son, a rising fourth grader, became close friends with two other boys from his class last year. The three have spent a lot of time together this summer, including attending a couple of weeks of camp together. When we got our teacher assignments, we learned that his two friends will be in the same class. My son will be in a different class. He is very upset about this and wants me to ask if he can be assigned to the other class. I suspect it's too late for that. Other than to say that we'll continue to have them over, I'm not sure what I can tell him. Any advice?

Have you been in a similar situation? Please share your tips in the comments box below. (If you don't see the comments box below, you'll need to log in or sign up for a WRAL account. You can do that by going to the top of the page and clicking on either "log in" or "register").

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  • babbleon Aug 15, 2012

    Wow - with responses like this, who needs enemies?

    It's a short note, but many of you clearly missed the last line: 'I'm not sure what I can tell him.' TELL him - not 'do to change the class.'

    Ms. Mom: I think the emphasis on 'new friends, and friends at lunch and recess' is good (though you may want to check that it's accurate). But there's also the factor of 'experiential' friendships - experiencing things together creates bonds, and not being in the same class will change the friendships, and I think your son knows that.

    But I think you're right not to just dismiss his anxiety - tell him things will be different than last year, but that's not all bad. Acknowledge the fears, but try to focus on the opportunities, I think.

    For example - he can tell them about what's happening in his class and ask about what's happening in theirs - it gives him something new to talk about with them.

    He may also be combining 'friend loss' and 'back to school' fears.

  • JAT Aug 15, 2012

    To the email that Sarah posted from her inbox: it's amazing that parents would actually "flood the office trying to switch classes". Is that all some parents actually have to worry about? If it's about a bad teacher, do these parents think it's OK for other kids to have the bad teacher but not their kid to? And if it's just about wanting to be their friends, why would a parent even go to a school with that request? It just boggles my mind that there are parents like that. Just amazing.......

  • jennifer23 Aug 15, 2012

    As a former teacher, I encountered this problem/anxiousness from students and parents a lot. Hopefully, your son will have an understanding teacher who will help alleviate his worries. I was always very positive and upbeat about the student forming new friendships, and being able to see old friends at recess and field trips, etc. The classroom is primarily for learning- so friendships were mostly maintained at recess anyway :)
    And as far as the comment about home schooling- totally unnecessary. My middle child is being home schooled for various reasons, none of which include pampering... that's just a bonus!

  • shall6 Aug 15, 2012

    Here's a response from my inbox:

    My daughter attends a year round school and the same thing happen to her this year. We found out her class a couple days before the first day. I think the school decided to let everyone know a couple days before so that parents didn't flood the office trying to switch classes like last year.
    I decided to keep her in the class because there is no guarantee that next year we would run into the same problem. My daughter sees her friends at lunch and recess. I told her that when she is in class the most important thing is concentrating on her school work and not friends. She doesn't like not having her two friends in the other class but she seems to be adjusting to it. I hope this helps and I feel your concern as a mom.


  • JAT Aug 15, 2012

    ncsualum - it wouldn't be that big to the kid if he'd been taught to respect decisions as he was growing up. A 3rd grader is old enough to understand that teachers and principals make the assignments. It really sounds like the kid is used to getting mom to bail him out of anything he doesn't like. Otherwise, he'd be bummed but it wouldn't be that big of a deal.

  • gmhfay Aug 15, 2012

    I tell my daughter when things like this happen - this gives her the opportunity to meet new friends and she will still see her other friends at differnet events and they can be friends after school -

    I also tell her to be a friend to someone - you don't have to see them 24/7 -

  • ncsualum09 Aug 15, 2012

    I think it is important to note that the SON asked to be moved, the mother never said that was her plan. She asked for advice as to what to say. This is a VERY big deal in this young man's life. It may seem small to the adults, but as a concerned parent she realizes that this is going to be a rough transition for him and she is just looking for advice to make it easier.

  • cburkhard Aug 15, 2012

    Seems to me that this mom wasn't looking to be a helicopter parent or be 'overprotective'- she's looking for advice on what to tell her son about how to deal with the situation! I got the feeling she wanted him to stay in the original class, but was looking for ways to comfort him, and words of advice from people who had taught their kids this same lesson before. My son is in the same situation this year as well, and I have told him all those things and used this situation as a teaching moment, but he is still anxious about it. I will use the 'going to work' analogy with him too- any other helpful tips?

  • justbcauz Aug 15, 2012

    I agree with HopingForABetterWorld. This should become a teaching moment for him. I think it is wonderful that he already has such close friends. But, requesting to move him into their class sends the wrong message to him. Just playing devil's advocate, what if she requested that he be moved into the other class and the boys had a huge falling out (I'm not sure if this happens as often between boys as it does between girls, but just for the sake of the argument). Would the mom then request he be moved back into his original class because he is no longer friends with the boys or because they are now enemies? Probably not, but I'm sure you can see my point. Situations and relationships are constantly developing and changing. Teaching him to adapt to these changes will benefit him so much more in the long run. Although this seems like the end of the world to him today, reassure him that sometimes things happen that we can't control, but we can choose to make the best of them.

  • snowl Aug 15, 2012

    You might say to him, "you are growing up now", and example: remind him that grown ups don't take their friends to work with them.... School is like his job, and he can see his friends after school and on weekends. A fourth grader is old enough to understand that.