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Playing with younger children
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Playing with younger children

My son 10 enjoys playing with younger children,6 to 7 yrs. old at recess at school. This is fine with me as long as he behaves himself, he is not to boss or throw his weight around with them. He is to treat them with the same respect he shows his two younger sisters at home,5 and 7, when he plays with them. However, there is a teacher's aide at school who constantly pulls him away from his freinds while playing, she says"you need to go and find something else to do, or she will say you need to find freinds your own age to play with."So he feels he has done something wrong and goes and sits by the side of the building by himself, this happened on the Thurs. before March break. I had let this go on long enough and called the school Friday morning, after my son had left for school. My son never knew I had called . I set up a meeting with my son's full time teacher and went to talk to her right away. I asked her if she had ever gotten any complaints about my son playing with younger children on the playground, she said no, so I proceeded to tell her the full story, she said she would have a chat with the aide and not to worry, so I left it at that. When my son got home from school that day he said he had gotten in trouble  because I had called the school, I asked him to explain, he said the aide called him over at recess and told him that I had called the school about the problem he was having with her, she told him that she didn't want him playing with younger children because she feels it will hold him back when he gets into highschool. she said that all the other schools she has been to had a rule that big kids couldn't play with little kids. I fell this is not the case, and that she has no right to determine what is good for my child being, she doesn't know him well enough. My son plays with children his own age all the time at home, he has cousins who live down the road his own age an a next door nieghbor who goes to a different school, he plays with him all the time, I feel I have raised a fine young boy who loves and respects younger children, I feel he will , someday make a terrific Father, However if this aide constantly gives him trouble for spending time with young children ,I feel he will soon put younger children in the catagory with getting into trouble and soon start straying away , or even eventually harming them to stay away not having anything to do with them. Please do the best you can to help me I would love to Print your answer and take it to school to show the teachers and the aide involved. I want to know if it is okay to play with younger children occasionally as long it is done respectfully, and also If constantly getting in trouble for it will eventually cause damage. Thank- you very much ..... Sputterbox
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Any particular preference of a child needs to be considered within the context of their overall development. This includes their preference for playmates.

Your description indicates that the aide is acting out of good intentions, but is now overstepping her bounds. Of course she should offer guidance when it is appropriate, but she should not have addressed your child about your conversations with the school.

Apart from the particular issue with the aide, it is useful to take an objective look at you son's behavior at recess, and wonder why he is not associating with his same-age peers. It isn't so much that playing sometimes with younger children is a problem. But the normal developmental thrust would be to associate with his classmates, because in a developmental sense there is a great difference between children who are 6 or 7 years old and children who are 10.
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This brings back memories - I had this problem when I was 10.
I have always got along with people younger than me particularly as I never really got along with people my own age.

Part of the reason for this (for me) was that kids my own age bullied me whereas younger children were more accepting and generally a lot more fun to be around.  This however doesnt sound to be the case with your son.

Still, younger children are a lot of fun to play with.  It can feel good to be the oldest in the group and have them looking up to you.

The thing that I really wanted to comment on though is how much trouble teachers can be in these situations.  At my school they would always split the school into the older and younger kids and  the two groups werent supposed to mix.  I never accepted or understood this, even now I find it a little crazy although also so the logic of it (im 21 now btw).
I feel that teachers dont allow for kids who dont fit in with their age group.  This however just makes things worse as for me it left me with barely anyone to hang around with at school and yes I also spent time stood by the side of the school staring at the wall.  Often I would get as far away from people as possible because people my age didnt like me and I wasnt allowed to mix with younger kids.
This I feel is a real shame as an older child can be a good role model for younger children but schools just dont seem to realise this.

Maybe I have said more about myself that needed here but I think parents should know how often schools get things wrong.  My mom was always really supportive about me hanging around with younger children, only a little worried about what their parents would think.  Its crazy that parents or teachers should worry about an older child wanting to be friends with younger children.  I know that for me it was the longing for a younger sister that made me feel more confortable around younger children mostly girls.  Also I have always been keen on the idea of being a father.  Most people assume that boys are only interested in football and other violent sports - personally I was always a lot  more gentle and thats why I didnt get along with most other kids my age.

People shouldnt be afraid of children that are just a little different from the majority.  I also think that if all kids were honest you would find a lot more who like the idea of mixing with younger kids than we currently know.
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