J.M. asks from Hinsdale, IL on September 17, 2009
Picking Friends in 1St Grade
In my daughter's first grade class, there are two helpers per day. One of their privilidges is that they get to pick a friend to sit with them in a special chair during rug time. The other day, a child accidentally picked two and one had to sit down feeling rejected. This was a fluke accident.
I can't help thinking that there are many in the class hoping to be picked and who may never or may infrequently get picked. I confronted the teacher and her explanation was that this type of exercise is a life lesson. The more they experience little disappointments among friends, the better they will be prepared to deal with it when they are older.
I know, I may be more sensitive to this kind of stuff than most, but what do you think. Is this a positive learning experience? Or, does it feed into the problem of cliques?
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So What Happened?™
Honestly, I am still conflicted. I just don't see the lesson from the teacher other than promoting hurt feelings in the classroom. Seems like first grade should be a place where the kids can feel safe and confident. Shouldn't the teacher be teaching the kids about friendship and inclusion? Wouldn't that be a better life lesson? They'll get the hard lessons anyway in the lunchroom and recess. Right?...
After my talk with the teacher, she amended/improved the program so that the same kids could not be picked more than once per day. But, after 2 more weeks of this and my daughter still not being picked, I decided to talk to the school's social worker. She did not feel it was appropriate either and said she would check in on the class (as she routinely does) to find out what was happening. It was then that the teacher told the social worker that she was discontinuing this program because "some kids were more sensitive." In the end, I'm happy that this exercise ended. Since then, my daughter has been happier and not coming home with comments about who is picking who and who seems to like who more.
Thank you to everyone for your support and thoughts!
G.P. answers from Chicago on September 17, 2009
It is part of life, even when we are older and in the work world we deal with this, you need to be less sensitive about it. All through life we deal with disappointment, but this is what makes us learn and makes us stonger. The teacher is 100% right and you should be happy that your daughter got a good teacher that is in reality, because now days, the way parents are "expecting their children to never get let down or disappointed" it would be a very challenging job to be a teacher!
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A.L. answers from Chicago on September 17, 2009
This is just my opinion and everyone may not agree, but i agree with the teacher. My daughter is also in 1st grade and she has already had to deal with this type of situation many times already where friends choose others over her. I always talk to her about it, and tell her it doesn't mean they don't like you, just that right now they want to play with others. There will be times when she doesn't want to play with someone and i bring that up as well to show her what i mean.
I think it is a good learning experience for them, because whether we like it or not they are going to have to deal with this at some point. I was never a popular person and even was picked on a lot growing up, but my parents never sugar coated it and that helped me deal with the bullies and the comments over the years. If you can teach them how to deal with their feelings in these situations that is how they will learn to deal with them.
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K.K. answers from Chicago on September 18, 2009
I agree with the teacher. I think our society is really not doing a good enough job teaching children coping skills. Life can't always be fair to everyone and children need to learn this and learn how to make themselves happy.
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J.C. answers from Chicago on September 17, 2009
I'm with you. Although I'll be honest - I would have thought it was just a difference of approach, except that I hate the teacher's reasoning so much. Girls learn how to exclude (and bully) fine on their own - just wait a few years, the stories my friends tell about girls, horrible. They don't need any "life lessons" on it from the teacher.
There's no work equivalent where it's socially acceptable to openly play favorites like that, either, at least not in my corporate office. What the teacher should be doing if she wants to help kids succeed in a globally diverse workplace (and I work in one) is to team them up with the kids they aren't necessarily drawn to and teach them the skills to help them share responsibilities fairly as a team.
B.Z. answers from Chicago on September 17, 2009
"Rug time" is either reading or calendar, in both cases a direct academic activity. The kids are probably distracted by the social implications or being picked or not during this time, so I expect that the academic goals of the curriculum are not being met as they would if this social "learning" wasn't expected during the rug time. It's for this reason that I disagree with the teacher. Otherwise, these "life lessons" are appropriate for the age group. I have seen kids able to pick a buddy to go with them to the nurse (if hurt) or to deliver notes to the office (one of the rotating class jobs). In these situations, the kids are out of the classroom, and the distraction to the curriculum is minimized.
I anticipate that there will be many situations like this during the first years of school. Maybe these are good lessons, I don't know for sure. I was always bothered by the bulletin board in class that shows who got a tooth out and who didn't... like a kid has control over that?!? What's to stop someone from feeling inadequate because they still have their "baby teeth"? It's akin to the way girls compare who is wearing a bra in the 5th grade and not... teachers don't put THAT on bulletin boards, do they? heehee
L.A. answers from Chicago on September 18, 2009
I actually think a better way would be to have the teacher pick who they sit with ( someone new everyday), then you get to know everyone better, and maybe make an unexpected friend.
I think kids experience this stuff outside of the classroom, so why do it in the classroom as well. Let them at least have a safe place where they do not feel rejected.
B.K. answers from Chicago on September 18, 2009
I saw that you already posted that you're still conflicted. I wanted to add my two cents. I think it is a really strange thing to let kids pick someone to sit with them. It definitely does exclude kids and there will be many hurt feelings. Will the teacher make sure that everybody gets picked? Has she talked to the kids about picking kids who haven't been picked already? What if the same kid gets picked over and over and nobody else gets the opportunity. I don't see the teaching moment here at all. As the mother of two daughters I know they will learn the life lessons when they get older -- girls are mean. I think first grade should feel safe and welcoming. This seems like a good way to make kids not want to be there lest they not get picked. I think it feeds into cliques. I don't see the benefit at all. They already have their special job for the day. Why not leave it at that?