As homeschooling parents, one of the questions that people frequently ask us is, “how do you socialize your child?” I guess, what they’re truly asking is “how do you mingle your child with other kids?”
My answer is, we enroll our daughter at a gymnastics club and we schedule playdates with her friends. Our homeschool provider also organize events and clubs where children can socialize with each other.
And because homeschooling population is increasing in the metro, there are organized groups that cater to the needs of homeschooling families such as Homeschool@BGC and Free Forest School Playgroup Philippines, among others.
But then, I won’t be focusing on this, as this part of socialization is just a fraction of what a true socialization is.
Socialization, according to sociologists, is a process of transfering norms, values, rules, and behaviors of a certain group (e.g., family, school, church) to a child. Transfering of certain behaviors or values could be done in different ways.
It could be through a direct instruction of the parent/teacher to the child. It could be a child observing certain behaviors from his friends while playing. It could be watching a certain show.
For instance, we Filipinos were socialized to have a Bahala na attitude, one of the many virtues we acquired from our culture. This virtue was transferred to us from the teaching and modeling of our parents when they pray for Divine Providence. It is also something we observed from Filipino television shows. As such, we adopted it and make it part of our personality.
Primary and secondary socialization
Technically, socialization begins during infancy and lasts until old age. The first and most important socializing agents of the child are the parents or primary caregivers. Socialization with parents serves as the foundation with which the child forms his personality and sense of self. For example, if the parent values self-expression and shows this by listening to the opinion of the child, the child in turn will learn that it is okay to voice out his thoughts to his significant relationships.
The secondary socialization that a child has is with people outside the family. Usually this refers to schooling and/or organizations where the child belongs. The child learns to adjust his behavior and adapt to the culture of the group.
If the culture of your child’s group also values self-expression, which is also the same value that you socialize him with, then chances are he will acquire this value easily, as opposed to contrasting values between his family and outside group.
For example, if the kids in the child’s group say mean things, but the parents imbibed kindness in him, then there is a high likelihood that kindness will win. In this case, it is usually the family which has the stronger influence.
So as you can see, the question on how do you socialize your child is a bit vague. More importantly, it doesn’t just refer to simply mingling, playing, and chatting.
I’m not implying that socialization with other kids is not important, it is important. With playing, kids learn how to take turn, how to negotiate, and how to accept other kids’ differences. Also, they get to learn and acquire other kids’ behaviors and attitudes. Given this, the background and the culture of the kids whom your child socializes with is also worth considering.
5 Agents of Socialization
Sociologists identified 5 agents of socializations. These are the things worth thinking about regarding socializing our kids.
Parents are the first people that a child is exposed to. The kind of the parent-child relationship can determine the child’s future behaviors and relationships.
Peer influence is strongest when the child is in adolescent stage. It is the stage where the child slowly distances from the parents and attaches to friends.
The print, televisions, movies, video games, and internet also play a role in shaping the child’s behavior. That is why monitoring and guidance of parents are highly important.
4. Institutions (religion)
The lessons learned from Bible stories and traditions of the church are also potential shapers of the child’s attitudes and decisions.
What are we doing as parents to teach and model to our kids proper behaviors, attitudes, and values? What is the culture of the kids to whom our child is socializing with? What is the media that we let our kids absorb that will add to their knowledge, understanding, and creativity, among others? What is the role of religion in molding our child?
I think the answers to this question is a more holistic answer to the question on how do homeschooled children socialize.