Question one:
What is socialization and why is it so important during early childhood?

Resources:

Antia, S. (1994). Strategies to develop peer interaction in young hearing-impaired children. Volta Review,
     96, 277-290.

Odom, S., McConnell, S., and McEvoy, M. (1992). Social Competence of Young Children with
    Disabilities. Maryland: Paul H. Brooks Publishing.

Summary of Findings:

Socialization is a child’s effectiveness in influencing a peer’s social behavior and appropriateness given a specific setting, context, and/or culture (Odom, McConnell, and McEvoy, 1992).

Through social integration, children develop a sense of self and an understanding of moral reasoning (Odom, et al. 1992).

Social competence is a life-long learning competency that is a critical building block to further cognitive, language, or communication skills (Odom, et al, 1992).

Interactions with peers help children build stronger, more mature social interactions for adult life.  Children who learn to gain access to materials in a successful and appropriate manner, to build mutual trust, develop humor, manage their emotional response, resolve conflict, and respond to aggression in an appropriate way grow to become effective, well-adjusted adults (Odom, et al, 1992).

Unless children achieve minimal social competence by the age of six years, they have a high probability of being at risk throughout life.  The risks of poor socialization are many: poor mental health, poor school achievement, and poor employment history to name a few (Antia, 1994).

The single best childhood predictor of adult adaptation in not IQ, not school grades, and not classroom behavior, but the adequacy with which the child gets along with other children (Antia, 1994).
Insights:

The value of friendships and appropriate social skills cannot be overlooked or taken lightly.  Through peer interactions, children learn a variety of skills, growing cognitively, linguistically and emotionally.  Through these interactions, children learn other viewpoints, cooperative skills and negotiation.  For professionals working with young children, this area of social skill development is a critical, if not central, one.   In the early years, young children build the foundation, even non-verbally, for the roots of social development through their play with others.  For the hearing impaired child, socialization can be difficult as language skills play a part in its development.  They must learn to socialize with both hearing as well as hearing impaired peers with ease, despite this language delay.  Sometimes a frustrating task, however one that is most rewarding in the end.

Other references:

Antia, S., Kreimeyer, K., and Eldredge, N. (1993). Promoting social interaction between young children
      with hearing impairment and their peers. Exceptional Children, 60, 262-275.

Guralnick, M. (1980). Social interaction among preschool handicapped children. Exceptional Children, 46,
     248-253.

Higginbotham, D., Baker, B. and Neill, R. (1980). Assessing the social participation and cognitive play
     abilities of hearing-impaired preschoolers. Volta Review, September, 261-269.

Ladd, G. (1990). Having friends, keeping friends, making friends, and being liked by peers in the
     classroom: Predictors of children’s early school adjustment? Child Development, 61, 1081-1100.

Parker, J. and Asher, S. (1987). Peer relations and later personal adjustment. Psychological Bulletin, 102,
     357-389.
 

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