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An Only Child

Homeschool Voices From the Past

Taken from The Parent Educator and Family Report (November 1983)

Hewitt Research Foundation

by Raymond and Dorothy Moore

Q. We have an only child. Doesn’t he need preschool or kindergarten in order to learn to get along with other children?

A. An only child of course needs care to avoid his becoming self-centered, but unselfishness and altruism can be taught better by wise parents than by little school children who themselves are still naturally selfish. First, we don’t suggest that you keep your child in a social straight jacket. Yet never be deceived by the modern myth that he needs socializing with a lot of other little children. Dr. Urie Bronfenbrenner of Cornell University says that the more people there are around, the less opportunity there is for meaningful human contact. These are human beings, not rocks to be polished by hitting against each other in a revolving barrel.

Because the young child learns by observation and imitation, exposure to other little children at an early age — also yet socially immature — tends more toward negative than positive socialization. Rather than learning to be unselfish, sharing, taking turns, and being kind to others, University of North Carolina professor Dale Farran reports that studies of day care children show up to 15 times more aggression than children cared for at home. This does not mean just greater assertiveness or willingness to stand up for one’s rights, but a tendency toward verbal and physical attacks on others. They are also more easily frustrated, less cooperative, more distractible and more demanding of immediate gratification. The most important socializer for a young child is the parent who not only teaches but demonstrates the qualities he wants his child to develop.

Raymond and Dorothy Moore

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