Kids, Lighter, News

Banning “Best Friends” At School?

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Children making friends
Children making friends in the sand area at a park. Image: Andre Engels

Some kids in London, England are being discouraged from having a best friend at school.

Psychologist Gaynor Sbuttoni, a specialist in children’s behaviour, told a London newspaper that some elementary teachers aren’t letting students have a best friend. Instead, they are urging children to play together in groups.

The Sun newspaper reported that Russell Hobby, of the UK’s National Association of Head Teachers, said some schools there have best-friend bans.

Teachers say the reason they do this is so kids don’t get hurt if they split up with their friend.

But many people don’t agree with banning best friends. Some say that forbidding best friends can prevent kids from learning about the ups and downs of life. They say it’s better to learn at a young age that good things don’t always last and that people can get hurt—and that they will bounce back from disappointments.

Others say that the emotional support that comes from a best friend is more important than worrying about a break-up.

Maurene Atherton is an elementary school teacher and principal who has worked in Canada and China. She says friendships are very important for children.

“Having a best buddy or friend assists a child in their self-confidence. Children are, however, encouraged to develop a circle of friends so that they are not solely dependent on one child.

“But there is value in that certain friend that you can share (everything) with, and who knows all your secrets. I am sure many of us can relate and hold that special relationship in our hearts forever.”

Sbuttoni said that the practice of banning best friends at school isn’t just in England. It also takes place in other countries.

CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS
By Kathleen Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
How did you feel when you first heard/read this article?

Do you agree or disagree with the decision to ban “best friends” at some schools?

Who should make the decision about who can/should play together?

Reading Prompt: Extending Understanding
Connect the information in this story to your own experiences at school. Do children at you school get left out because they don’t have a best friend to play with? If so, think of a solution to this problem so all students feel included and have someone to play with.

Primary
Extend understanding of texts by connecting the ideas in them to their own knowledge and experience, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them (OME, Reading: 1.6).

Junior
Extend understanding of texts by connecting the ideas in them to their own knowledge, experience, and insights, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them (OME, Reading: 1.6).

Intermediate
Extend understanding of texts, including increasingly complex or difficult texts, by connecting the ideas in them to their own knowledge, experience, and insights, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them (OME, Reading: 1.6).

Grammar Feature: Adjectives
Write as many adjectives as you can think of to describe a friend.

Would you need to change/add any adjectives if you were describing a “best friend”? If so, which would you change/add. Why?