Your child is learning from his friends.

How Does Socialization Affect Learning in Children

by Erica Loop

It may seem like your young child is growing more social by the day. Whether he's already the preschool class social butterfly or is just getting acquainted with pro-social behaviors, your little learner is using his people skills in other areas of development. From the "school" day to home and neighborhood play dates, socialization has an affect on childhood learning that is easy for parents to see.

1. Learning Social Skills

Your child was, most likely, not born with social graces of Emily Post. That said, she can learn pro-social behaviors during the socialization process. The more time that your young child spends in a social environment, whether it is a group class or one-on-one time with a friend, the more her people skills will grow. For example, sharing is a basic pro-social skill that most toddlers and preschool-aged kids don't come to the table already knowing. The more practice that your child gets sharing toys and playthings with other kids, the better she will get at it.

2. Peer Mentors

You might not think of a child who is a mere year or two older than yours as a mentor, but this type of social situation can help your little one's learning. Using a more advanced child as a helper when it comes to learning new skills and concepts is a major part of sociocultural theory. This theory of child development centers on the idea that children learn and develop in the context of other people. That means your little learner can get a grip on concepts ranging from how to use a paintbrush to counting numbers -- and almost anything in between -- with the help of a preschool pal.

3. New Ideas

The socialization process means that other people can add in their opinions and ideas. During social situations, your child can get new ideas from friends and even other adults, such as his teacher or a babysitter. For example, your preschooler is trying to build a block tower, but it keeps toppling over. He notices that Mary's tower -- which is 2 feet away -- is standing tall. Instead of giving up, your child looks at Mary's construction and copies it. While copying in itself isn't traditionally acceptable in school, in this instance Mary's new idea can help your child to learn a new way of doing things.

4. Norms

One of the key parts of any socialization process is learning a culture's or community's norms. These norms are expected behaviors, or those that most people in a certain group deem as appropriate. Socialization can help young children understand what adults, and in some cases other children, hold near and dear when it comes to expectations. These norms can vary among groups and places, allowing your child to learn an array of expectations that she can use in different environments. This may mean that your child learns that at home it is acceptable, or normal, to eat a snack while sitting on the floor, but at school it isn't.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.

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