I have been thinking a lot about socialization. Wait, that's an understatement. The thing that can most make me fall into a deep pit of depression on any given day is socialization. This is, Addie's socialization... friends or lack thereof... and ours, because I ultimately realize that our childrens' socialization flows from ours.
I have loved posts tagged on Penelope Trunk's blog with socialization. This is an issue that comes up a lot for homeschoolers, which is her case. I think here in Portugal this issue is even more acute and starts to come up even before school age, because society is set up differently than in the US. People don't associate as much by common interest, as Penelope mentions and as they do in the States. Honestly, I don't think people even associate as much. Penelope Trunk talks a lot about school preparing you for factory-type work and modern school being babysitting while parents are in factories. I would say there is more "factory mentality" in Portugal than in the US. People live for their jobs and associate with their coworkers. Or close family. And they assume if their baby is in daycare or their kid is in school, they will have friends and be happy.
Anyway, sorry for the rant, but this is something I struggle with greatly as I try to set up playdates with our neighbors in a world where playdates don't really exist. And people obviously think I'm weird. And I presume it will only get worse because she is getting to the age (three) when EVERY PORTUGUESE CHILD MUST BE IN DAYCARE OR ELSE, as even our pediatrician has warned us about. "Medically" speaking, of course. And then no one will be interested in playdates anymore because "they have school".
Here are some of my favorite socialization quotes from the aforementioned blog:
"For example, Smith points out that 2.7 million kids are on medication for attention disorders, and this is largely the result of school needing to socialize kids (boys, mostly) who do not fit into the mold of what kids should be doing all day (to prepare for factory work, mostly, but that’s another story).
Also, Smith links to data about how homeschooled kids are more likely to vote and participate in community service. Which seem like fine indicators of whether someone is attached to society at large.
And then I started thinking that when people talk about socialization, they tend to talk about social skills. But we know from Asperger’s research that social skills are innate. Each of us is born knowing how to pick up social skills, and if you are not able to pick up social skills by osmosis then you have a brain disorder." (from here)
"In school, friends are a function of proximity (the social psychology term for this relationship is propinquity.) If you put kids in a classroom and then tell them they have to wait for recess, they have to be quiet for math, they have to line up, and so on, then the kids have shared problems: how to get through stuff that they don’t like.
The same is true of college: Kids are in a dorm spending most of their time not doing homework. They are hanging out together.
Then comes adult life with new cities for new jobs and they have no idea how to make a friend that is based on interests rather than proximity. They have no idea how to make a friend by appointment. But that is actually how people have friends in adult life. Which is most of their life.
So how homeschooled kids make friends is how people make friends in the real world: by common interest. First you have to identify your interests and then you have to identify someone who shares those interests. And then you do that special thing with that person. It’s fun and lucky if you can do a wide range of other things with that person as well. That is part of the process of discovering each other." (from here)
"We would not have been able to handle any of this if we had to navigate life around school. There are so many aspects to building a friendship. One aspect is proximity, which is what I think people think of when they think school is for making friends. But the other is space and time, which school consumes rather than provides.
If I had understood about how to grow and care for friendships, I probably would have understood sooner that homeschooling is better for socialization. It’s so obvious to me now, and I wish I could have had a small quiet space to find friends when I was young like my son has now." (from here)