Monday, 8 February 2010


Thanks to the commenter who raised the important difference between the two words 'socialzation' and 'socialise'. To make sure that I was exactly clear about these two often interchangable words, I have pulled out my 'Chambers English Dictionary'. This is what it says:

Socialization: the process by which infants and young people become aware of society and their relationships with others.

Socialise: to behave in a sociable manner, eg at parties, etc; to spend time in the company of others.

This led me, as it so often does when perusing a dictionary, to check out another word: 'sociable'. This means 'friendly', 'companiable', 'fond of others' company'. (It also means a type of open horse-drawn carriage. You never know when that might be useful in a crossword!)
So it would seem that, as an adult, I have achieved socialization: I am aware of society and my relationships with others and I can operate successfully in society. I have friends and I can get along and even work with people I wouldn't chose to. However, I do not always socialise. I like to spend the evening in by myself, just a book or a jigsaw for company. I am fairly sociable and I enjoy spending time with others, but I tend towards the introvert end of the spectrum.
I think that my children have also achieved socialisation and I am tempted to think that the fact they have friends is evidence of this. Socialisation is a skill that can be practised at home, especially with two siblings. I think this learning process can be more explicit and intentional with a loving, invested adult around, someone whose skills are more developed and so has something to teach.
I think the real concern for me, then, is whether my children have enough opportunities to socialise. This, of course, depends to a certain degree on how sociable they are. My eldest is more content in his own company as opposed to my daughter who is much more keen to play with friends. While my son has a 'take-it-or-leave-it' attitude to social gatherings, my daughter is always up for a play-date or a sleep-over. Again, it is about being intentional and noticing their individual needs, focussing my attention and efforts on what these particular, unique people require and not what 'children in general' might be perceived to need.
This is an issue I'd like to come back to and I'd welcome any readers thoughts. How do you manage with your Home Educated children. How do you think your children's school experience meets these needs? How did you learn socialization?

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