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Home education and socialisation – How do parents influence the social development of their children?

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  • Category Advice Column, Child, Education, Impaq, Parenting, Tween & Teen

In the previous article, some arguments regarding socialisation were investigated. Home education, as an alternative approach to education at a school, has become a progressive development in South Africa and across the world. Homeschooling, however, is also often criticised regarding the social skills and socialisation opportunities of the home educated learner.

Mentioned in the previous article, Saldana (2013) is of the opinion that education should rather be about

“The transmission of culture, the process by which the culture of a society is passed on to its children.” 

This implies that children naturally learn their culture by acquiring knowledge, beliefs, values, and norms and that their self-concepts, emotions, attitudes and behaviour are directed by agents of socialisation, groups and/or institutions.

Socialisation vs schools

In terms of the above, schools play an important role in the socialisation of learners, but this compels us to ask:

  • What if schools are absent in the lives of learners? 
  • If the learners do not attend a formal school, does it necessarily imply that the learners will not be well socialised? 

Schools are not necessarily a healthy environment for a learner to observe and imitate social behaviour. This as many children across genders, races, cultures and beliefs are bullied. We need to ask ourselves if the behaviour that children are exposed to is the optimal skills in socialisation that we want our children to have? It is also mentioned in several studies that the socialisation in age groups as forced in school environments is an unnatural form of socialisation as this type of socialisation rarely happens after the school-going years. In the real world, we are expected to behave socially sound in different situations independent of the age group, gender, culture, etc. we find ourselves in.

Related: Socialisation – Homeschool learners vs Traditionally schooled learners 

Adopting the behaviour of the group

According to Durheim’s theory of collective representation, individuals become socialised by adopting the behaviour of the group. Individuals will adopt the experiences, system of ideas, patterns of behaviour, attitudes and values held in common by a group of people. 

G.H Mead also confirms this theory with his own, I and Me, theory. It states that what others say become increasingly patterned in “me”. What is generalised by others, becomes the “me” and defines the “social self”. G.H Mead’s theory also mentions a “play stage” where a child imitates an adult through role-playing. It is commonly observed that especially little kids imitate their teachers screaming and reprimanding learners or imitate a dad or mom shouting at their kids. Both these theories state that social skills are developed by who and what children are surrounded with.

Imitating acceptable social behaviours 

When a learner is home educated, they will naturally develop social skills. These skills depend on what they are exposed to, what behaviours they observe in and around their home, their community, and even the social media platforms that they are a part of. 

So, to answer the question of the role of parents in the socialisation of a homeschooled learner, parents need to assure that the learner is surrounded with an environment, culture, community and situations where acceptable social behaviours can be observed, imitated and developed. Being surrounded by acceptable social behaviours will help the child be accepted into the community as an adult with acceptable socialisation skills. An adult that can adhere to rules, regulations and who can contribute to what we would like to represent as human beings. A person that a child can look up to and then be imitated as a positive influence in the community.

By Lientjie Young

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