Friday, May 08, 2009

Socialisation or Social Development - what do we want as homeschoolers for our children?

A home educating parent on the Australian Homeschool Yahoo group wrote: "There are so many ways we can correctly 'socialise' (goodness I hate that word!) children without school..."

The way the word is used and interpreted by educationalists bugs me too. It is because they (those that seek to 'approve' our homeschooling activity) define it as the ONLY aspect of social development - they lump everything to do with social development under that one word. Just shows how ignorant they are about child development really, doesn't it?

Socialisation is the process by which we learn how to belong and get alone within groups. This is necessary to our survival. Without adequate development of social skills - particularly intra-personal (getting to know one's self) and interpersonal (understanding our relationship with others) - socialisation can go seriously awry. We end up learning how best to cave into peer group pressure, undermine our moral development, lose touch with who we are, what we want, and even how to problem solve to reach win-win solutions in social situations.

Socialisation can have negative as well as positive consequences - we learn valuable lessons from both, and rightly so. Our aim as parents and educators is to keep these in balance, making sure that we focus on the holistic development of SOCIAL SKILLS. We can't do this in social isolation - it is impossible. However limiting exposure to unsupervised social situations in the first eight years of life appears to have more beneficial outcomes in most children than allowing children to socialise each other without appropriate and constant guidance.

Child-care, preschool and school based education pay too much attention to the socialisation aspects of social skills and not enough attention to the others. Children need to develop a healthy sense of self to develop resilient and healthy socialisation skills - this is best done when surrounded by people who they can trust have their best interests at heart - people who love them.

© Beverley Paine

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