Factors Affecting Social Development (page 3)

By — Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Updated on Jul 20, 2010

Role of the School

Once children are in a school setting, other factors affect their social development (Berk, 2001; NRC & IM, 2000). In addition to a child’s parents and family, the teacher becomes an agent of socialization. Now the teacher and perhaps the principal set rules, limits, and standards for behavior. Other children also become models, setting new or different standards for social behaviors. Entrance into the school society can be difficult for young children (Seefeldt, Galper, & Denton, 1998). Leaving home, unsure of how to manage interactions with this new socializer and with other children, preschool-primary students can find school a miserable experience at first. Many transition techniques have been designed and implemented to ease children’s entrance into school. Some schools encourage parents to stay with their children for part or all of the first few days to let the children know they are not being totally deserted. Some schools begin by inviting a small group of children on the first day and adding another four or five each day until the total group has been integrated. This approach allows children to get used to relating to small groups and become familiar with the school and the new social situation before the entire group is present. Home visits by the teacher or school visits by parent and child help ease possible stress.

The dichotomy of socialization—developing a strong sense of individuality while learning to become a member of a group—is ever-present in school. Children must retain their individuality, yet they must give it up by putting the welfare and interest of the group before their own. At school, they find they must share not only materials, toys, and time but also the attention of the teacher. Here they learn to cooperate, see others’ viewpoints, and work together for the common welfare.

The school’s role during these early years is twofold. First, school experiences must focus on strengthening the child’s self-concept and feelings of individuality. Children who feel good about themselves can make the difficult, complex adjustments necessary for group living. Having aided the child’s development of self-esteem, the school then uses this strong sense of self as the basis for guiding children into positive group experiences where they can learn the skills necessary for living in a society.

In the school, the focus on social skill development is threefold, revolving around the development of the following:

  1. Self-concept. Children’s feelings about themselves are the foundation from which they learn to relate to and communicate with others.
  2. Prosocial skills. Being able to cooperate and share are necessary for forming solid relationships with others.
  3. Making and keeping friends. Children who relate to and communicate with others, sharing and cooperating, are those who are accepted by their peers and can make and keep friends.
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