In families, much like in life, we deal with people of varying ages from grandparents to infants. That is normal socialization. It is learning to deal appropriately with people of all ages. Even early education included students from first through eighth grades traditionally worked in the same one room school house. The older students provided some role modeling of how to behave (or not) as older children and those lessons, by example, helped to improve behaviors in the younger students. Actually, I have found that when students are age-segregated that they are more likely to try and gain attention through bad behavior, kind of a lowest common denominator kind of effect. Whereas in normal socialization, a student may stand out as having a really good sense of humor, in non-appropriate socialization, several children will compete with vulgar behavior to gain the title of “class clown.”
Similarly, when properly socialized children are outside of the formal academic setting, they are more likely to find friends of different ages and interests. This, again, reinforces the idea that students will gravitate toward children with similar temperaments and interests, regardless of age. Younger ones benefit greatly from these friends who become a sort of role model who demonstrates how to behave when older. Couple this with an attentive family life, which demonstrates, values, and teaches, respect, self-worth, kind behavior, etc. and the community of the child becomes the training ground for decent adult behavior.
Believe it or not, schools do not age-segregate for any reason that is beneficial for your child. It exists to make teaching easier for the teacher and to create a better situation for “crowd control” when dealing with large numbers of children. It has become a societal norm in this country only because it’s very existence has endured. It is what many of us knew in school so we assume that there is no good alternative to it. To only know how to relate to others who are in a specific age-normed situation of maturity and development lessens the child’s natural tendencies to pursue additional friends of all ages. Lack of ability to socialize freely with multiple ages of people can also hamper a child’s ability to pursue certain activities and vocations, mainly those which are fostered by entering into a mentoring type situation. How can your child be effectively mentored if he or she is uncomfortable engaging into a friendship based on a mutual interest with someone who will generally be significantly older than him or herself? How will this caring older child or adult get to know your child in the first place if they are always with only same age peers?
Through pursuing their personal interests as part of our homeschooling life, my sons have had the good fortune to meet many and varied people to socialize with. No two are the same. Some are very similar in temperaments to my children, others are not. Some don’t hear as well (some Senior Citizens who volunteer in the same places we do), might be mobility impaired, suffer deafness, or just be typical people with more or less experience than my boys have attained. Sometimes they are learning from others. Other times, they are sharing what they have learned. This has furthered their skills in ways that this Mama didn’t know how to and has helped them immeasurably in gaining confidence.Appropriate socialization can happen anywhere: at the park, at the horse stables, at Scouting events, in church, and even at the grocery store. When you take a moment to open your eyes and really look around at your lifestyle and community as a homeschooler, you will find that resources and opportunities abound!
How do you ensure proper socialization for your children?
Join us for the next installment of our series about homeschooling. In case you missed one of the earlier posts, you can use the following links.
Why Homeschool: Life Long Learners
Till next time,