A daily routine is considered a must for children – it brings a sense of structure and control to their lives, and tends to make things run more smoothly at home and at school. However, when children socialise with the same people day in and day out, their understanding of the world is limited to the understanding of those individuals. That’s why, when it comes to socialising, a break in daily routine can make all the difference to a child’s experience of the world.
Here are three reasons every child needs opportunities to engage in social interactions outside their daily routine:
- New friends, new insights: Research shows that children learn best from their interactions with their peers rather than their parents or other authority figures. Because of the way children learn, they pick up the behaviours, beliefs, even accents of the children they spend time with. This can broaden their horizons and expose them to different skills and interests. For only children in particular, these interactions provide an opportunity for learning about sharing and negotiating – skills that are practised differently at a child’s level than they would be by an adult.
- A chance to learn more about the world: When children move out of their ‘comfort zone’ (the environment they are used to), they have the opportunity to engage with peer groups that operate differently to their own. These new groups may work with different rules around behaviour, language, religion… under the careful supervision of responsible adults, these interactions can be used to encourage children to be more open-minded, to recognise that there are all kinds of people in society, and that is important to be curious about the different ways of being in the world.
- A confidence boost: As much as children learn about others when they socialise with new people or engage in new activities, they learn about themselves as well. Successfully interacting with others (be they children or adults) can truly boost a child’s confidence. This can show them that they are able to form and manage social relationships, resolve conflicts, or try new things without the help of caregivers or the restrictions of their usual environment. A sense of independence and self-worth can also be developed within the bounds of a relationship with new peers.
Whatever a child’s circumstances on the home front or at school, all children need a chance to experience new environments and new faces. Socialising outside of what they can know have a major impact on how they see themselves and their life options in the future.