Once you get closer to three years old, then its all about school. When are you going to go to school? Are you in school yet? Where are you going to go for preschool, prekindergarten, and beyond? If you say you aren't sending them to preschool or prekindergarten, then you are constantly asked, "well what about socialization?"
Now that my oldest will be four in a few months, he is eligible to go to prekindergarten in the school district. Not a requirement by any means, but we can go through the early childhood screening, looking at school options, and picking them out. We've been asked a lot lately, as we've decided not to send him to prekindergarten, "well, what about socialization?". It's almost as if people assume you need to be in a school building, a classroom filled with others that are only your age, and have to have a teacher in order to have socialization.
I am pretty sure we will continue to get this question a lot once people find out what our school choice is. But I am saving that for another blog post. For now, is about the socialization aspect.
So, what about socialization? In my best Inigo Montoya voice...
Can you honestly say you know what socialization means? Take a moment to look it up. I am guessing you will find yourself quite surprised by the true meaning. And also find the actual word you are looking for.
More often than not, people want to know about socializing. Which is not the same as socialization. Socialize, meaning to mix with others socially, is really the question people are wanting an answer to. What people really want to know when they ask this question, really is "well, how are your children going to have playmates?" This concept, the concept of socialize, is just a mere aspect of socialization.
Socialization, meaning the process by which individuals acquire the knowledge, language, social skills, and value to conform to the norms and roles required for integration into a group or community, is something that is learned throughout life and from those who are a part of the person's life. You don't need to have a school building, a classroom of kids the same age, or a teacher to do this. This is something that can be taught by parents and others through day to day life. Now remember, a community is a family, a town, club, city, or organization. Even a group of friends can be considered a community. If a child is learning to fit into their community, then socialization is happening.
So you see, kids don't have to be sent to a school to learn socialization. Even more so, when someone asks the question about socialization and you answer with a simple, "you don't need a school to learn socialization" you usually end up with a response of "well, yeah I get that" or "I know that, but..." and the answer seems to trail off. It's as if it has become common place to ask the question and people have become so set in the ways that looking past what has always been done may not be the best reason any more. Or more likely, they really aren't looking for an answer...especially if it doesn't fit in with their line of thinking or their way of doing things or how others around them do the same things. Fear of being judged because of the what a family member decides or friend decides is really what it comes down to.
There are some many other ways to get socialization. Church, grocery shopping, going out to eat, play dates, visiting museums, classes out in the world around you, helping others, interacting with other age groups, sports, clubs and organizations, the library, even going on a walk around the neighborhood. The list goes on and on.
There is so much more to socialization and kids learn it through seeing others in their community. They learn it from their parents to start. Then it continues as the kids grow and their world around them expands. Their knowledge, skills, and values build and grow as they do.
So, the next time you ask the question, "well, what about socialization" be sure you are ready for the answer that is given to you. If you honestly know or get it, then you don't need to ask. If you are just saying "yeah, I know that" or "yeah I get that, but..." then take the time to listen to what the person is answering back with. Take the time to learn and understand, don't just ask because it's become common place or to say something about it. If you don't want to listen, then don't ask the question.
My children are learning socialization through their every day and day to day living. They learn it from us, their family, and friends. They learn it through their neighborhood and church communities. They learn it while running errands and while out on adventures. My kids are not at a day care, they are not in a school. They are around all ages. They are growing their knowledge, social skills, and values. I have great faith in the community around us and them, that they will continue to grow all these things and more.
Well, what about socialization? Yeah, my kids are doing just fine in that area.