How the Family not School Plays the Key Role in Socialization

Anyone who has been in charge of a group of children, then observed the behavior of the parents can only come to the conclusion that all of those different personalities and behavioral patterns came from the home, and not from any organized social activity. The outgoing little girl who chats with everyone is the carbon copy of the outgoing parent or guardian who chats with everyone. The quiet, introspective child is a reflection of the parent’s or guardian’s quiet and introspective lifestyle. The blustering bully…well, it’s someone in the home who is the source of that behavior.

The child has a semi permanent aspect of character, personality, social and behavioral response that is formed in the first four or five years of life. Today’s children, however, can spend the bulk of their day in a formal or family child care setting, that began in infancy. Many children begin preschool early.

As a result, there is no longer a standard age when children leave the immediate family as the primary source of social development. There is also no standard age when children are placed in environments where teachers, sitters, or day care providers care for multiple children from multiple households, and thus are introduced to the formal structures within which broader socialization skills and behaviors develop.

For any evaluation of this issue, the concept of “family” needs to be observed and classified, based on who is the primary guardian and what has been the primary preschool and non school environment for the child. When children are within the traditional structure of school, then home with the nuclear family, then one set of observations may be made concerning which setting has more influence on the child’s social development.

In the traditional, nuclear family, it could actually be the father who is the primary caregiver and nurturer outside of school. A male perspective on the moral, social, belief and other structures could have a different result in the child’s social skill development than if the traditional “stay at home mom” is the primary caregiver and nurturer.

So today, there are such differing family structures as grandparent guardians; parents with separate households; households where both parents work, and when the child was raised by sitters or in day care; and various foster care settings. When there is such variation in familial and school structure, it is impossible to evaluate how or why either school or parenting becomes the dominant factor in social development, until the context and structure of the child’s family and other life away from school is examined.