Home Pre-K - How much "socializing" does a 4 year old need? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 08-23-2011, 08:15 AM - Thread Starter
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I went on another site and posted to a forum on parenting pre-schoolers about the difficulty my DS (almost 4 y.o.) is having with his big sister starting kindergarten this year, and how to help ease the transition without spoiling him (letting discipline things slide or giving him an amount of attention that is unrealistic to keep up).  I want him to be able to entertain himself for a while - not all day, just long enough to let me get things done.


I "home preschooled" my daughter, and I'm comfortable with that decision for my son.  We do workbooks occasionally, I read to them a lot, but I think kids need unstructured play time and time to use their imaginations and be a kid.  I don't use the T.V. as a babysitter, and I'd say most weeks they get less than 1 hr. of television.


So obviously my DS is not an only child, and gets some socialization playing with his sister.  We also attend a church where he has Bible class with other kids his age twice a week.  Other than that, we live out in the country, and the drive time/gas money issue prevents a lot of running around.  I do plan to start taking him to a Mother's Morning Out once a week in a nearby town once it starts in a couple of weeks.


People on that board acted like I was depriving my child horribly by not giving him more social stimulation than that, and seriously criticized the stated priorities of my family.  They were all, without exception, recommending I enroll him in pre-school ASAP and basically implying that I was a selfish, bad mom for not doing whatever I could, no matter how inconvenient or financially unreasonable, to get him there.  So I am feeling a little touchy about the whole pre-school thing right now.


But how much social interaction does a kid that age NEED?  I grew up in the country when our school district did not even HAVE pre-K, as did my sister and brother, and I don't feel that 5 years spent without gymnastics, soccer, and pre-school harmed us in any long term way, and in fact had a lot of other benefits.


Are there any studies about how much socialization kids need with children their own age?


I feel like it will do my son much more good to have me to himself for a few months during the main part of the day (I have a baby due in December), instead of just pawning him off on someone else, and having him spend nearly 1 1/2 hrs daily in the car (because driving around in the car is very intellectually  and social stimulating).

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#2 of 6 Old 08-23-2011, 07:35 PM
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I'm with you.  I don't know what the big deal is about socialization and a perfectly happy 4yo who is not intentionally being isolated is just fine in my book.  I mean, isn't being with mom and family socialization?  Or is does the term only refer to kids his age?  Yeesh!  


Apparently people think that parents are not the ideal people for kids to spend time with.  Teachers are much more qualified, and the limited socialization that happens in a institutional setting is infinitely preferable to any time spent at home.  Sorry, I'm ranting, but this issue really gets my goat.  A mother is selfish for not enrolling their kids in preschool?  Pretty soon we'll be shipping the babies off to baby college so they can develop their intellects properly.....


Sorry this post isn't more helpful.

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#3 of 6 Old 08-24-2011, 03:18 AM
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There have been many studies done to compare children that are home with mom vs. children that attend daycare. I personally, have seen very little about the halfway step of preschool (though I don't doubt someone has studied it). Basically it seems that children who go to daycare are more prepared for the institutional setting of school: on day one they know how to stand in line, wait their turn, sit down, tolerate bullies, etc. The kids home with mom are more emotionally secure, more likely to question authority, and doing better than their peers by 3rd grade. I am hodge podging together stuff I have read over the years, so forgive me the lack of reference. Anyway, I decided I was good with the trade off- questioning authority is not a bad thing in my opinion.

It sounds to me like your ds is doing great and you are being the best mom you know how to be- and that is all that matters.

Laura, Mama to Mya 7/02, Ian 6/07 and Anna 8/09
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#4 of 6 Old 08-24-2011, 05:32 AM - Thread Starter
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And see, if all that "institutional stuff" is what is meant by socialization, I'm good.  My kids are learning that even without pre-school/daycare, because they have to learn how to sit and listen for Bible class, and stand in line at things at church, etc.  But these parents were specifically talking about peer socialization.  And I feel like with the baby coming, these months at home, getting more secure in his place with Mommy will help him more than time spent with random strangers who are dividing their time with fifteen other kids, and kids who are busy doing things.  I am going to see about arranging some playdates with a woman I know and her son, but that's as much for me as for him.


My kids' cousin is in day care (same age as my son), and I would say he is no more or better "socialized" than they are, by any measure I can think of, except he does know how to play "duck, duck, goose".  And he's less able to sit and listen, etc, but that is more of a personality thing than something that can be attributed to daycare or no daycare.


I've had some time to think about this now, and I was just upset because I was blindsided by how against not preschooling everyone was.  I know much more about my family and what we need than they do based on a few paragraphs, and it would have been dumb to ask total strangers on the internet for that advice.  But that wasn't the advice I was asking for anyway, it was just a random thing that the first poster said that started everyone else down that path.


SweetSilver - that's okay, I realized afterward that I was pretty much ranting, too.

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#5 of 6 Old 08-24-2011, 06:55 PM
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When we were trying to adopt through foster care, they recommended two hours, twice a week with kids around their age. I think that is enough, although they'd probably like more play time with others if they are extroverted.

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#6 of 6 Old 08-25-2011, 03:57 PM
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As mentioned in this thread, there are so many different views about what 'socialization' is and how it is 'best' accomplished.


Just to give you an idea of what another homeschool-for-preschool family does:


For our family, I view it as more of 'social skills' and 'being social'. We would invite another child over for an hour or so at our home to start (sometimes easier than groups for some kids that age) but not usually every week. That way, my child could get used to sharing his toys or showing his friend something he could do on his own terms, before we went to others' homes. Later, some friends and I took turns having each other's kids over, which was nice b/c my son liked visiting his friend (kids need breaks from us too!) and I got a brief break to get some things done or run a quick errand.


Often, my child and I would go to the grocery store together, or the public library, or the playground. The playground was great during the time that kindergarten got out because there were often more little kids for mine to play with. We'd have a few 'outside the home' or 'friend over' experiences a week, but most of my kids' social needs were met in the family (or visiting extended family close by). I felt comfortable with that and it met my children's needs for interaction.


As far as how much social opportunities the child needs--it varies for each child, based on their temperment and developmental stage, it's quite a lot like when they were a baby and would cry if they were hungry, needed a diaper change, etc. When my 3 and 4 year olds start misbehaving or otherwise trying to get my attention, I realize we need a change of scenery, like a quick walk around the block, or a trip to the park or play a game together. ( or time apart from one another--he liked his time with Daddy and Grandma too)


I noticed I often had a period of time when my child would be content to play on their own while I could get some of my things done if I spent some time with him first. I call it 'making the investment': if I purposefully took the time to interact with my child in a way that was meaningful to him (say, 30 minutes), I found his need for my attention was met and then I could have a little extra time alone. I might have a day where I could spend 30 minutes with him, have 40 minutes to myself, then reconnect for another 20 minutes, then 30 minutes to myself, and on. On the days I skipped this, I noticed my child would be more clingy or whiny and it seemed like I got nothing else done.


Children need our attention and this is a healthy thing--it's really healthy when they are asking for it, even if it is in ways we do not like. We can teach our little ones to be polite and ask for our attention, too, instead of whining. Also, the sooner we respond, and the more consistent we are in responding, the less whiny the child is because he is secure in knowing he will have your attention when he needs it.  I am not suggesting that you do not know how to spend time with your little one smile.gif. I am offering my experience in hopes that it may help you 1. meet his social needs and 2. Get stuff done that's important to you. (or anyone else who is looking for this kind of info and reading this thread)

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