There is plenty of evidence that indicates children benefit from preschool. In addition to getting a jump on academics, many educators, social scientists, and parents believe that one of the greatest benefits children derive from preschool is socialization, specifically social skills and good behavior management. But is preschool the only place where children can be properly instilled with socialization? And what if a family cannot afford to pay for socialization?
On a recent playdate, a fellow Montclair mom disclosed that her child will not be attending preschool in the fall, as a financial crisis had come upon her family. To this admission, another friend responded, “Oh, but what are you going to do? She needs socialization!”
The next morning, I observed my children at Edgemont Park. “Okay,” my three year old said to a friend he had just met, “you go first, then I’ll go. How’s that?” In an instant I realized that I had just witnessed communication, negotiation, and alternate dispute resolution; in short, socialization-simplified.
When asked whether preschool is necessary for proper socialization of their children, here’s what some local moms had to say:
Mother of 3 & Montclair resident for 52 years
If you live in a town like Montclair, where people select their preschool with an eye to what college/university their children are going to attend, then yes, I suppose preschool is considered necessary. (Really! I could hear the parents interviewing the nursery school director in the next office.) In other situations, I’m not so sure. I think it depends upon the social proclivities of the parents, type of place you live in, whether you attend church or other social organizations, whether there is extended family around and so on. Many children are successfully home schooled and socialization comes from sources other than “school” or “preschool” and I don’t think there is anything wrong with it.
Mother of 3, ages 12, 10, and 4; Montclair
Honestly, I do think pre-school is important not only to interact with a new set of kids (those that your mom doens’t pick out for you) but also with adults. Pre-school gives kids a beginning exposure to adult authorities — Teachers — which is in my opinion as important as friends (maybe more!).
Mother of 1, age 5; South Orange
Yes, it’s necessary unless you have a large family of sibilings/cousins that they spend a significant about of time with.Otherwise, children are often only relating to parents/caretaker where they get most of the attention, they don’t have to share and their needs are almost immediately met- very little wait time. Interacting with others shows children they are not the center of the universe. Children learn to share, be cordial and kind, wait their turn, have conversations with their peers, help each other, accept help from others, etc.
Mother of 2, ages 4 and 3, Livingston
Yes, preschool is important for socialization. Kids have to be around other kids to learn empathy, negotiation skills, compromise, etc. I can say from experience that parents alone cannot handle the task of teaching all these things, nor is it possible to do without a group of children around. Preschool teachers have years of experience teaching coping and getting along skills that us untrained parents don’t have. I am happy that my son’s teacher taught him this year, “you get what you get and you don’t get upset.” That has made life a lot easier with both my boys! There are other specific examples, but don’t have time to name them all. Suffice it to say, even if you happen to have a lovely child (most likely a girl) who behaves wonderfully with other people, that is a lucky thing and there are tons of other kids out there who were not born with innate social skills or with parents who are capable of teaching socialization skills and therefore a trained teacher and a preschool class is essential to teach them socialization skills!
Mother of 2, ages 2 and 4; Califon
I think kids can be socialized without going to preschool: Gymboree, Gymnastics, LOTS of play dates — any activity that involves being with other children in an environment where they get to interact and play will help them develop social skills. Preschool does a good job of sharing and ABC’s ( and my daughter asks to go everyday) but I don’t think it’s necessary in order to develop social skills.
Mother of 2, ages 9 and 11; Montclair
I think they can of course be socialized w/out preschool if the parent is a social person and works on setting up get togethers, outings and interactions with kids they don’t know and aren’t “comfortable” with (random meetings at parks, etc). The thing that preschool does that cannot be accomplished at home is the social interaction WITHOUT the mother hovering and “guiding” it. Let’s face it, we are always on some level aware of and influencing their interactions when they are with us. The school situation allows for others to play this role, and a different level of independence comes from that… the child realizes at an earlier age that although they love their mommy/daddy they don’t need to cling to them all the time, and are “okay” when not with them. I personally (of course if the school is a GOOD one!) think this makes our kids stronger socially and more comfortable when entering grade school.
So parents of Montclair (and Baristaville), is it absolutely necessary to purchase socialization? Or can it be found more casually, in supermarkets, on the playground, in the neighborhood, or even within the family? Does society abound with natural socialization?