Google+ Authentic Parenting: Collective Care and Socialization

Monday, September 13, 2010

Collective Care and Socialization

Many believe that children who did not 'benefit' from some form of collective care in early childhood will miss out on the foundations of socialization.
I firmly believe, however, that collective, age-separated care, such as preschool, daycare or kindergarten often rather stunts the development of socialization skills than to nourish them.

Of course, it would be entirely possible to isolate children who are kept at home, but this is something few parents will seek to do, even if it were only to maintain their own sanity.

Most stay at home parents actively seek out other people, of which some will be children, to converse with and to have their children interact with. They will generally end up with an age-diverse groups and several adults.
Even if a parent would not actively seek this interaction, they would still get out of the house, may it just be for shopping, and meet people.
Thus, these children will learn to socialize with numerous people of all ages and both genders; in small groups at a time and in the comforting presence of a parent.

Image: Woodleywonderworks on Flickr
Children who are in collective care have to deal with a big and age-homogenous group of children all at once. A scary incentive and one where they have little or no adult supervision (in Belgian daycares the rate of adult per child is one in six and in kindergarten one in 25). Moreover, this supervision is performed by a stranger, rather than a trusted person.

Even most adults get uncomfortable in big groups, so imagine a small child who hads the skills, nor the defences to deal with this kind of situation. Often, children react by turning inward, or becoming agressive, territorial. They may have seemingly made many friends, but they did not gain special skill they could not have gained while at home. They certainly haven't become more sociable by chucking them all together.

Collective care does not build real social skills, rather mere defense/survival mechanisms. Children who stay at home do not become social outcasts.



  1. I recall a comment, "Daycare may be good because toddlers can learn from on another". I have to ask, What can they learn from one another? Babies and Toddlers learn by example and I hope to be that example (or another trusted adult). A toddler as a role model, hyper, wild, energetic, no direction, controlling, short attention span, isn't the best role model. A toddler is a playmate and daycare is a playground.

  2. I agree that children who stay home don't become social outcasts - that is more a function of personality - both of mom & kids. Perhaps more of mom early on (I struggled with this, being an introvert myself). I also agree that collective education of large single-aged groupings of children isn't ideal. However, I do believe that shared, cooperative learing in a group of multi-age children, like the Montessori method, can be very beneficial. It's much more natural, and nurtures nurturing :), empathy, and teaching (which is the best form of learning) - similar to having a family with many siblings. My children have absolutely blossomed since starting Montessori.

    The most important thing, I believe, is to follow your child. If they're longing for more social interaction, parents should honor that with differing experiences - doesn't necessarily have to be school; but library groups, playgroups, homeschooling groups, choir, drama class, etc. If they don't enjoy that type of interaction, I don't see benefit in forcing it.

  3. @Kelly, I agree, it is very beneficial to children to be in contact with children of a variety of ages and that way they learn a lot indeed. Wether it be in the form of a class or other activity. This is something parents should indeed seek out to organize for their child


I love comments! Drop me a line