Seating charts aid friendship, study says

Seating charts aid friendship, study says

A new school year means several things: crisp notebooks, fresh faces and assigned seats. Is there anything more terrifying — and thrilling — than waiting for the teacher to call your name and learn if you’ll be seated next to the kid who chews on everyone’s pencils?

And although the popularity of assigned seats is low among their intended targets, a study from Florida Atlantic University suggests that this age-old classroom ritual has benefits beyond keeping your child’s math teacher sane.

In fact, seating charts play an important role in how elementary-aged children form friendships.

The study showed that students sitting next to or close to each other were more likely to be friends than those seated farther away.

Although students become familiar with their cohort as they progress through elementary school, results indicated that when seat assignments changed, students were more likely to become friends with their new neighbors than with those who were assigned seats farther away.

We know repeated exposure to something can make us like it more. But when it comes to making friends, this study indicates that proximity may be just as important as exposure.

By giving kids new opportunities for the kind of exchanges that make up the basis of a friendship, proximity can surpass familiarity. And, when you consider the power our formative years and friendships have on our development as people, it’s no surprise the study’s authors caution teachers against using the power of assigned seats flippantly.

After all, friendship is magic — even when it happens because you landed in the dreaded front row.

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