Should Schools Separate Best Friends?

classroomI'm starting to dread the ding of my iPhone that tells me there's another message from a Facebook friend. Teacher assignments for my daughter's elementary school came out late last week, and it seems every message that comes in is another parent telling me that their child won't be in my daughter's class. With each bit of news, her face tears at me all the more.


And yet, I keep looking, hoping that somewhere in there will be a notice that will send her heart soaring. It's selfish, I know. The school takes a lot into consideration when they're drafting class assignments. As the letter that came in the mail last week said, "Class lists were created using the available student data on each child in order that each class is balanced both academically and behaviorally."

For the teacher's sake, I'm glad they aren't being handed a classroom full of brats. But for my daughter's sake, I can't help wondering: shouldn't relationships be taken into account?

I confess we got lucky last year. So lucky. One of my daughter's two best pals from nursery school was assigned the same teacher, and his mother and I started the year off confident our kids would at least know someone in their classroom, that our two little attached-at-the-hip kids could retain that level of friendship if they so desired. As the year went on, that friendship blossomed, but so did relationships with other children in the class. By a stroke of luck, one little girl with a similar spirit shared my daughter's knack for reading, landing them at the same table when the kids were split up into reading groups mid-year. Their fast friendship has pushed into the summer months.

But now here we are mid-July, and neither child will be joining her in her first grade classroom. Nor will her other buddy from nursery school (with whom she's kept up a friendship thanks to playdates) or, it seems, her friend from babyhood. My girl is going at it more or less alone.

And I'm selfish as heck, but I don't like it one bit.

Sure, she showed in kindergarten that she could make friends. My little politician has never had a problem with shyness. Or humility for that matter. I could take this as a compliment from the powers that be who know my social butterfly will do just fine thank you very much. I could even look at the flip side of the coin -- that moving on with your friends can be too comfortable, can box our kids in, can keep them from trying to test their limits and say "how do you do" to a new little boy or girl.

But I'm her mom. I want her to have it easy or, at least, to feel like she has a little something to fall back on should all the kids in this new class turn out to be duds. So as much as it hurts, I'll keep on checking Facebook until I've exhausted the possibilities.

Do you think schools should try to keep groups of kids together or is it best in the early years to push them to test their limits?


Image by Jeanne Sager

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