Saturday, March 25, 2017

Structured Activities and Socialization

When children enter elementary school they spend a lot of time in a structured environment. However, they also need time to be in structured activities such as playing a sport, music instrument etc. These structured activities are associated with positive development. These programs provide the background  for children to build strengths and capabilities and encourage children to learn and explore the rules associated the organization that convey expectations for caring, character building and moral identity (ex. boys and girls club). Organizations provide a setting for children to interact and build friendships while working toward common goals and providing the opportunity to influence their own development. This is done through building leadership skills and shaping their communities. The attitudes of organizations that anticipate positive outcomes include opportunities for planning, taking initiative and availability of positive peer and adult role models. These organizations also provide opportunities for children to volunteer which helps children, especially youth, think about and consider the lives of someone other than themselves. These types of programs also put children in different social situations which helps them develop the social skills for that particular social setting.

Peer interactions become more complex as children grow and can serve as a vital function to promote pro-social skills. For example, when my child was in high school she had a friend that thought they had to do everything together. They had to like the same things and she started to tell my daughter who she should be. This friend didn't realize my daughter was  a completely different person from this friend. They had to be in constant communication with one another when they weren't together telling each other everything. They had to like the same things, feel the same way about teachers and parents etc. My daughter got tired of being told who to be and this friendship became an unhealthy one for her to be in. She finally ended the friendship when the friend told her what a horrible friend she was because my daughter wouldn't tell her everything that was going on in her life and therefore tell her everything. This peer interaction helped my daughter grow and promote pro-social skills as she told this friend they were no longer friends and why.

Without the opportunity for routine contact with peers in formal and informal settings, the formation of friendships isn't possible. Child care, playgroups, and community programs  provide instruments for promoting children's interactions and socialization skills. The attitudes and beliefs of a child's parents play an important role in managing a child's experiences. Parents initiate pathways by selecting  environments for children in their early years. Depending on the environments parents choose to put their children in and what resources are available in those environments the opportunities for social interaction and friendships may differ for children depending on geographic region.

Socialization is a process. It's a process that requires many avenues and children need guidance from family, community, and friends to help them learn the  rules of socialization. Guiding and teaching a child to learn socialization skills is when the saying, "It takes a village to raise a child," is very true.

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