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Fitting in when classmates are in a different social class.

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

We are pretty poor right now and don't live in the greatest neighborhood, but we were able to get DS into a great charter school across town. It's in an upper-middle-class neighborhood. The kids will have things that DS won't have and do things that DS can't do. From trivial things like TV shows and characters (we can't afford cable) to nice clothes (we'll be washing his uniforms twice a week in order for him to have something to wear every day) and so on. I worry that he's going to feel left out or disappointed because he's not able to do all the outside activities his friends do or see the movies they see or whatever. I don't want him to want to just follow the crowd all the time but I also want him to feel like he fits in. He is only in first grade, so the difference will not be as noticeable as if he were older, but kids notice differences at all ages.

post #2 of 21

i dont think you should see any issues now. maybe 3rd grade yes. now usually not. 

 

do they have school uniforms?

 

the key is self esteem. i started it from when dd was in K. learning to see from a different perspective. so yeah you havent been to disneyland but do they have this? 

 

and when kids tease are they being fair? (this we saw in 3rd grade)

 

u know i think fits in has more to do with personality than $$$$ and everything that comes with $$$s.

 

i would right now start showing your son a different perspective and then see what comes up.

 

also a warning. just be prepared. he might take a month to settle down. for K, 1st and 2nd kids take at least a while to adjust - usually a month or two or even 3. they are tired, moody, oversensitive, more tantrums, sad, frustrated. 

post #3 of 21
How long will he be at this school? My oldest is 8, so take this with a grain of salt.. in middle school the pressure on kids to fit in and be alike is great. I wouldn't choose to send my child to a school where I knew he wouldn't be able to keep up socially - wouldn't be able to join in the same activities and purchase the same newest fad item. Kids already feel such pressure to be alike and not different. If your family is truly the odd family out, I might reconsider it as a school choice for the upper grades. Alot also depends upon his personality. For some, it wouldn't matter. For other kids it would. Good luck with your decision. It's so hard to know if we're making the right education decisions for our los!
post #4 of 21

I don't think it will be a big issue.

 

My son is the same age, and there are kids in his class who watch different shows and movies than he does, regardless of socioeconomic status.  We do have cable, but DS doesn't know what Pokemon and Bakugan are, simply because we don't watch those shows here.  He doesn't really feel left out because at this age, boys just like running around and being silly with each other (IME!).

 

I would recommend just talking to your son about his experiences often, so you can get a feel for what differences are being discussed by the other kids at school.  Someone in my son's class might talk about a family vacation to Hawaii or Europe, and while my DS might be a little jealous, I would just remind him of the fun things we have done together that might be different from other families.

 

There will always be differences.  Even with cable, every video game system, and all the money in the world, kids will be exposed to different experiences and have varied interests.

post #5 of 21

well, we did have a problem-unlike what the others have said we sent out DD to a private 1st and half way thru 2nd and social pressure was a major issue

 

they all wore uniforms and that did nothing

 

the "extras" did factor in- from (and this is NOT all a private schools issue thing) - scouts were a problem (meet right after school and DD wanted to be with her friends) - different expectations because of the $$ factor from the parents, after-school events (mostly organized by the school), b-day parties (being taken from school in a limo, super expensive facilities for parties, not to mention the gifts and parties every weekend!) all were issues for us

 

we did not want the material junk that came with friendships that were formed nor the values of most of the parents

 

this may not factor into your situation but it did for us (we did leave to HS for other reasons) and it was a relief to not have to deal with the social pressures that were placed on my DD

 

not to mention because it was a private school (at least you shouldn't have to deal with this)- the demand to raise money was a hugh pressure since classes were given prizes for $$$ this was all not what vales we wanted to share

 

wearing the uniform was really a joke, it did nothing, it was about shoes, bookbags, etc

 

hope you don't have it but if your child makes friends things can happen 

post #6 of 21

Given that this is a charter school, are you even sure it will be an issue? Isn't part of the point of charter schools that they can pull kids from all over, instead of just the local district around the school? The school may be located in a ritzier area, but the students may be socio-economically diverse. This is certainly the case in my area, at least.

post #7 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by NYCVeg View Post

Given that this is a charter school, are you even sure it will be an issue? Isn't part of the point of charter schools that they can pull kids from all over, instead of just the local district around the school? The school may be located in a ritzier area, but the students may be socio-economically diverse. This is certainly the case in my area, at least.


This has been my experience with charter schools in my city. The kids are from all over the city that is what really makes them different from neighborhood schools.
post #8 of 21
Quote:

Originally Posted by Bokonon View Post

 

He doesn't really feel left out because at this age, boys just like running around and being silly with each other (IME!).


My kids go to a k-12 school and I was a playground monitor last year. I'm sad to say that I think 6-7 year old boys are mostly impressed with things like a person's ability to make fart noises with their arm pit and how well they climb. I seriously doubt that ANY of them have a clue how often mom does laundry (or even realize that moms do laundry).

 

The TV show thing has been odd to me over the years (my kids are now teens) because as the number of channels keeps increasing and a FREAKY amount of stuff is available through DVD, and parents having different rules, very few shoes ever seem trendy to me. The kids all watch different stuff.

 

I hope you have a wonderful school year and that your son makes some nice new friends, and that you like the other moms thumb.gif

post #9 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by serenbat View Post

well, we did have a problem-unlike what the others have said we sent out DD to a private 1st and half way thru 2nd and social pressure was a major issue

 

they all wore uniforms and that did nothing

 

the "extras" did factor in- from (and this is NOT all a private schools issue thing) - scouts were a problem (meet right after school and DD wanted to be with her friends) - different expectations because of the $$ factor from the parents, after-school events (mostly organized by the school), b-day parties (being taken from school in a limo, super expensive facilities for parties, not to mention the gifts and parties every weekend!) all were issues for us

 

we did not want the material junk that came with friendships that were formed nor the values of most of the parents

 

this may not factor into your situation but it did for us (we did leave to HS for other reasons) and it was a relief to not have to deal with the social pressures that were placed on my DD

 

not to mention because it was a private school (at least you shouldn't have to deal with this)- the demand to raise money was a hugh pressure since classes were given prizes for $$$ this was all not what vales we wanted to share

 

wearing the uniform was really a joke, it did nothing, it was about shoes, bookbags, etc

 

hope you don't have it but if your child makes friends things can happen 


Just to point out, OP, that there is no way to tell how things are going to go for your little one... my dd attends a private school (for 6 years now) and we have had the absolute OPPOSITE experience as serenbat's daughter.  A lot of the kids in dd's class have two doctor families, or a mother who is an accountant and a father that's an orthodontist, we even have professional athletes who send their kids to dd's school.  We have *never* had an experience where the kids were taken anywhere in a limo.  The b-day parties are very, very low-key, usually held at the person's home (which, yeah, some of them are multi-million dollar homes, but still) and no expectations of expensive gifts.  They all wear uniforms and nobody (4th grade now) cares what kinds of shoes the girls are wearing or what kind of backpacks they are carrying.  Some of the kids have every electronic device known, but the school doesn't allow them, so the only time dd sees them is when she's on a playdate.  She has never asked for them (and we don't have any video games on principle, not because we can't afford them, although she has my old, cheapie MP3 player).  As for activities... also no pressure there.  The scout leader has said that if one of the girls (there are some at the school on scholarship) can't afford the dues, to talk to her in confidence and the dues will be covered, no questions and nobody else the wiser.  Same with after school activities.  The school will waive fees for those that qualify.  As for TV - my dd has never watched things on Disney, Nickelodeon or any of the other "hip" channels.  I Love Lucy is her favorite show and it's never caused any issues that she has quirky tastes in TV.  She doesn't care if the girls are talking about Justin Beeber.... she doesn't care about watching him and doesn't care that she can't join in on the convos about him.  (And this is not a financial issue, as we do receive all of the channels... all 250 of them for my mother who does nothing but watch TV... this is a personal choice.)

 

So, our experience with private school where 75% of the kids have rich parents and 25% may be even impoverished... we've not seen anything that serenbat saw.  Dd isn't the richest kid there, but she's also not there on scholarship... her friends come from all sorts of financial situations and there have never been issues.  You just can never tell what the experience is going to be, I suppose.

 

post #10 of 21
Velochic, it sounds as if your school had students with a wide range of socioeconomic statuses. OP, if that's the situation in your school, I don't think there will be an issue. However, I went to a middle/high school where 99.9% of the students were from extremely wealthy families. My family was upper middle class, but, I always felt like our family was "different" and decided as a teenager/young adult that when I had children they would attend a school with families from a similar socioeconomic background. And my children do! JMO.
Of course, I also agree that in the younger grades it is a nonissue.

ETA: my kids attend a private school with mostly middle class families. Some on scholarship to attend, some wealthy, but, most fall somewhere in the middle.
post #11 of 21

Do you have a great thrift store near you?  Maybe with a half price day?  I think for a great number of years you can be just as "cool" a mom / family as the next with a thrift store habit.  It is time consuming but I think of it as one of my hobbies.  Also are you on freecycle?

 

Also, research what extracurriculars are cheap / free in your neighborhood.  Kids who are in upper income families love their extracurriculars and this will be a good thing to chitchat with the other parents about, plus helping with peer relations.  Maybe you can't join the private TKD studio, do the private baseball league or swim team.  But your local government may have some real gems of teams for this that cost almost nothing.

post #12 of 21

In no way did I state that the OP will experience what we did-just to make that clear- it was our experiences

 

not to get to far ahead but you do deal with class difference when the child makes friends and that extends to weekend outings and play dates- not to mention if the school is far across town the availabilities to have play dates may be effected by the distance-just to keep it in mind as well as after school activities in or near school may factor into a decision to attend- there is no way to tell from the OP how long it takes to get to school and if this is a problem or not

 

 

while you may have several from different monetary backgrounds at the school perhaps you may not encounter any of the issues we did or you might

 

some people only deal year by year with their children's education and you might not even be there long term (that would be a major factor for me in deciding if it was a correct fit)

 

and with scouts, while all troops take girls from all backgrounds and do provide assistance, if you have a leader (s) that are from more affluent means things are done differently and even young children do notice

post #13 of 21

My son is going into the 4th grade at a very expensive private school. Most of these families have considerably more money than we do, better cars, bigger homes (often multiple homes-summer, winter, overseas apartments, etc), take lavish vacations, you get the idea.  It has yet to make a social difference to our son. Does he notice?  Of course.  But so far it hasn't bothered him. 

 

edited to add: it does seem the girls have it harder.  Most girls in his class have coach and Tory birch bags, Tiffany jewelry, Uggs in multiple colors, get mani/pedis on a regular basis. The boys don't seem to have the same amount of extremely visible tags of wealth and social standing.

 

 

post #14 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by serenbat View Post

and with scouts, while all troops take girls from all backgrounds and do provide assistance, if you have a leader (s) that are from more affluent means things are done differently and even young children do notice

Nope.  This hasn't been our experience.  Dd's troop leader is not only rich, she's stinking, filthy rich.  I've never seen her do anything differently than a typical leader.  (I was a girl scout for years and dd has been in since Kindy.)  She's never had activities that were such that the lower income families couldn't participate.  She's never even accidentally done something that would exclude someone based on their income.  It just has never happened.  And she's been the leader through Daisy and Brownies.  Now, there have been other things that have come up with her about her general parenting philosophy that I do not agree with, but it has never had anything to do with income.

 

I just would hate for the OP to go into this with pre-conceived ideas that are not realized.  To clarify, in no way did I say that you, serenbat, implied that your experience would be the OP's.  Nor do I think that our experiences will be the same as any others'.  I was simply giving a different perspective and experience than the one you gave.  Having an open mind is critical in these situations.  Best of luck, OP!  The key is that your ds is getting his educational needs met.

 

post #15 of 21

I personally think that the issues may be slightly different, less intense, because the school is a charter.  I know that OP asked about kid friendships, but my experience in private school, esp. in the early years, is that this is part and parcel of family friendships.  If you aren't having to deal with scholarship and fundraising issues, your experience may be different as well.  

 

 

post #16 of 21

My middle son goes to an expensive private school on scholarship, and we have had to say no to some things because we can't afford it. When there's a day off they'll have a "camp" at school that's $100 for the day. He plays on a less expensive soccer club than most of his friends although he'd prefer to play with them. We can't spend much on birthday presents, or host social events in our apartment. 

Honestly though, we're from middle class families and just happen to be broke while my husband finishes his PhD, so there's not a huge class difference. Everyone is nice and he hasn't had any problems at school. He likes going to his friends' fancy homes and playing with all their cool toys. Shoes are so not an issue-- a pair of $20 Chucks is pretty standard. 

post #17 of 21
Thread Starter 

Thank you everyone for the replies. I really appreciate hearing all the different experiences. We live 35 minutes from the school and only have one car at the moment, so extracurriculars are pretty much impossible until the end of the year, at which point we're hoping to be able to afford for him to do some activities. 

 

I'm just trying to keep in mind that DS is awesome and incredibly friendly and outgoing and will have no trouble making friends. :-)

post #18 of 21

This is about "stuff", and taking a social stance with said stuff.  Teach your child stuff is not who they are.  You'll be surprised at what will and will not bother them.  And the problem really isn't the kids.  It's the parents.  If you fret over it, they'll know.  If you comment about it, they'll understand what you mean.  Our neighbors are the one Uppers.  If they see we have something they need to get it bigger and then tell us about it.  Their kids are concerned about stuff as well.  Mine are just happy we fixed their bike tires. 

 

 

post #19 of 21

We are heading to a charter school, and I've spent a lot of time volunteering there. The great thing about charters and other schools of choice, is that families are chosing to be there. The parents are usually engaged with their kids, they spend more time at the school, they often have a volunteer obligation, and they tend to be socially economically mixed. At our school, all of the founding parents tend to be middle class but often have very high levels of education, i.e. many Ivy League schools and creative professions. Have opted out of expensive private schools because they wanted to avoid the issues or because they want a more economically mixed environment for their kids.  So, I wouldn't assume your kid will be the only with limited means.

 

As for "stuff," I would wait and see. We do the things you described by choice and so do many other families.  My kids don't have licensced stuff because I don't like it. We are media free by choice. We pack a lunch at special event because it is healthier. We don't throw fancy birthday parties because I think they are absurd. Income may or may not have a role. You may making choices based on income or values or both. A big part of how your child feels about it is how you act. Telling them they can never do anything /have anything etc because you don't have the money can be pretty hard on the self esteem. Perhaps you can reframe some of the issue and talk about priorities and special events. Income doesn't have to be a factor in how a child values stuff. Stuff doesn't make a kid. I know lots of wealthy family who dont live in lavish ways and don't spoil their kids. 

 

FInally, when I look back at my school experience especially middle school, the coolest kids were never the ones with the most money. It was always the kids who were confident in their own skins, who had their sense of style (NOT the most expensive jeans or shoes) etc.

post #20 of 21

I really do not think there will be issues at all. I live in a wealthier area and have friends and family that do not. I never ever hear anyone who lives around me even complain or reject anyone for having lessors means. However, I will hear certain friends or family who live in areas of lessor means think they need to "keep up with the Joneses." My sister has to have all expensive clothes for her kids just for them to go to school near me. But then, all the kids I know who actually live here, just get things like t-shirts from Target. I think when we had way less, and I grew up without much, I always thought those with more were looking down at me. But I realize now, they never cared. They really did not. It was just me who cared.

 

 

((((hugs))))) absolutely do not worry at all about this. Just put a smile on your face and don't get caught up in material ideas and all will be fine!

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