We loved the small elementary school our girls attended, but one of the disadvantages was is that their peer groups were small, too. If they didn’t like the kids in their class, they were pretty much out of luck.
Especially our younger daughter. Each year the number of girls in her grade dwindled and by the time she graduated from Grade 6, it was just her and one other girl, with whom she had been in the same class since JK (plus 12 boys).
But it wasn’t a problem. She compensated with friends from other places – primarily church, camp, dance class and other neighbourhood children who went to other schools or were in other grades at her school. We didn’t plan it this way, but it worked out – she had friends at school from Monday to Friday, and other friends that she would see on the weekends.
As the girls grew older and started playing hockey, their circle of friends spread even more. It’s true, they are busy. Are they overprogrammed? By some parents’ standards, I’m sure they are. But we discovered an extra perk to extra-curricular activities. Not only did they give them an outlet for physical fitness and improved their self-esteem, but they also enhanced their social life.
Yes, it’s been a balancing act trying to shuffle them all over the place, sometimes five times a week. There are days when I feel like I’m living in my minivan (and my husband does the lion’s share of the driving). But it’s totally worth it when they have friends in many places. When our older daughter did her lifesaving courses, she knew other kids from schools far from hers. When our younger daughter entered high school, she knew plenty of kids already.
Friends are an important part of our kids’ lives, but what we’ve found to be just as important is friends from diverse locations. Five friends from five different places is better than 10 friends all from school any day.