This is sort of a spin-off of the Separating Boys and Girls thread.
If your children go to a mixed school, do they "voluntarily" separate themselves? At a certain age, does it become unacceptable to have friends of the opposite sex? if so, at what age? How long does this last? To what degree? Do girls or boys who break this unwritten rule get any sort of recriminations or punishments?
I remember my childhood, where most of my friends were boys. Then around 3rd grade, up until I went to high school, I was so lonely, because I was not allowed to play with the boys. It was just totally unacceptable. The boys wouldn't play with me for fear of being harrassed by the other boys, and the girls were so subtle and complex in their communications that most of it went over my head. I had nearly nothing in common with them. Now I see my quiet, calm, observing son who has best girl friends and isn't going to go wild over football, and wonder if he is headed down the same lonely path. I hope not. I hope things have changed in the last 30-40 years. And if not, what can I do to help him through this period?
I recall the first time I noticed voluntary segregation happening with my dc. We were on a family vacation with another family, at their holiday home on a lake. My DS was 6 and DD was 3. There were 2 other children, a boy 10 and a girl, also 6. Before we left, I figured the two 6 y.o.'s would play together most naturally, and they would include the 3 y.o. some of the time to make a small group. I thought age/developmental stages would be the most important factor in play. In fact, despite the age differences, the 2 boys spent all of their time together and the 2 girls played together, if they weren't all playing as one group.
Now, my dc were in Montessori and spent their days in multi-age classrooms, so maybe it shouldn't have surprised me that age didn't matter and that gender seemed to be a significant factor. However, up until that vacation, they seemed to play in mixed gender groups with boys and girls equally. It was interesting to observe the gender split that happened immediately and without any thought that summer. It wasn't unacceptable to mix and there were no recriminations about it, but I didn't see any real desire to mix either. So the voluntary separation can happen quite young.
The separation doesn't necessarily persist though. Through the years, they've had quite a few friends from both genders. Now, as teens, they have both had girls and boys as friends and they all hang out together. DD is 15 and her closest friends are all girls, but DS has quite a few friends who are girls (as opposed to romantic girlfriends).
As for how to handle mixed groups at school, one thing I'd be very careful about is the teachers' attitudes. In middle school, it seemed like a favourite classroom tactic was using a "Battle of the Sexes" as a motivation tool. One teacher (male) in particular fostered a lot of nasty ill-will between the boys and girls by turning everything into a contest - academic work, fundraisers, yard clean-up... Every boy in the class was convinced the teacher favoured the girls. The teacher thought he was being sensitive to the special learning needs of the girls and encouraging their leadership etc. etc. It was an excellent example of good intentions, based on social research cited in the Separate Classrooms thread, being badly implemented and creating more problems than it solved.
I think it's different for different kids. DS has always had friends who were girls and friends who were boys. He tends to gravitate toward "tomboy" type girls though. He is 9 and plays mostly with boys, but will happily play with girls too (although he's not fond of girly drama that seems to be starting at this age). DD is 7 and would rather play exclusively with girls. She likes to chase boys, and tease boys, but to have a boy over to play would not enter her mind. Not sure why, but that's the way she's always been.
are u talking about school?
dd just finished 3rd grade and by the end of it i see the kids separating.
i have always prepared dd for a lonely path ahead. she doesnt fit in either camp.
she has absolutely nothing in common with girls and on the playground she has v. little in common with boys. she is not into sports or transformers or that much into video games either.
boys and girls still play together but the cliques are all of the same sex.
as i look around me i wonder how much of this is led by the parents. i dont see that many playdates with boys and girls. i see mostly parents of boys talk to parents of boys and girls stick with girls (not always but mostly).
however beyond school dd does fine. she has friends of all ages. one on one they play GREAT. in large groups the social separating of the sexes happen.
however dd is a weird child with a weird mom. i have always prepared her for facing the world alone. she tried making friends by changing herself and doing what they were interested in. but nope. didnt last. seh got tired of that.
i went to an only girls school and had the same experiences as dd. never really got along with the girls. all my friends were boys.
i think for us lonely is a middle name. and we have learnt to live with it. i didnt even get along with most teenagers or be interested in similar things.
i see dd and me being just different sort of people whom the world doesnt quite know what to do with.
dont know if the answer helps.