Social Development

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Social development Influences on children’s social development Developmental trends in children’s self-concept Culture and self-concept Learning social values General principles for supporting children’s social development 1 2 2 3 3 4

Children’s social development

Children’s social development
Children grow and change in many ways during their primary school years. As well as growing physically, children develop socially, emotionally and cognitively. KidsMatter Primary has produced this booklet for parents, carers and school staff on children’s development. This booklet discusses three dimensions of children’s development – social, emotional and cognitive (thinking and learning) development. To get a more complete overview of children’s development we recommend referring to the entire booklet. The focus of this section is children’s social development.

Social development
This involves learning the values, knowledge and skills that enable children to relate to others effectively and to contribute in positive ways to family, school and the community. This kind of learning is passed on to children directly by those who care for and teach them, as well as indirectly through social relationships within the family or with friends, and through children’s participation in the culture around them. Through their relationships with others and their growing awareness of social values and expectations, children build a sense of who they are and of the social roles available to them. As they develop socially children both respond to the influences around them and play an active part in shaping their relationships. 1

Influences on children’s social development
Whileparentsandcarersareclearly the first and most important influences on children’s social development, there are many other influential aspects of the social environment. Examples of the many influences on children’s development are shown in the following diagram. The people and settings that are most closely involved with the child – family, school and peers – are shown at the centre of the diagram. Through their daily contact with parents, carers, family members, teachers and other school staff as well as with their peers, children learn about the social world and about the rules, practices and values that support it. By actively participating in these relationships, children also affect the ways that adults and their peers relate to them. In addition, children’s development is influenced by wider networks of social support (represented in the diagram’s central circles), including extended family, friends and any community, cultural or religious groups a child may be part of. These networks provide opportunities for children to develop their

social awareness and skills as they relate with different people and experience a range of roles and expectations. As shown in the outer circle in the diagram, children’s lives are also shaped by the broader social circumstances that impact on their families and communities, such as access to social and health services, parents’ employment and income, or their ability to balance work and

family time. In particular, children’s sense of social connection is often influenced by community attitudes and by cultural values, including those they encounter in the media. Through their relationships and connections with others, children build a sense of who they are and where they fit in the social world. Coming to an understanding about self and others is therefore a central goal of children’s social development.

Children’s social development

Cultural values

Community connections

Media

Home-school connection Parents employment

Family

Family friends

Peers
Religious community

Housing

School
Extended family Sporting and social groups Government policies Social and health services Environment

Economic issues

Developmental trends in children’s self-concept
The ideas, beliefs and...
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