Kindergarten Socialization

Kindergarten girl not socializing with other children
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I remember when my son was about to start kindergarten. He'd had a wonderful preschool experience, and after much searching, I found what I thought would be an equally wonderful school for him to go to for kindergarten through eighth grade. I had really high hopes for what I had thought was the perfect school. Both my son and I were excited about the start of the school year. He was eager to learn and was the most confident, outgoing kid I'd ever known.

Once when he was about four, I took him to the local park. Before I could close the car door, he had scampered off to the nearest picnic table where another mom sat with her young son. I scurried off after him and by the time I got to the picnic table, he had already introduced himself and started a conversation. When I arrived, he said, "This is my mom, Carol. May we join you?" Socialization in kindergarten couldn't possibly be a problem. Could it?

Yes, it could. And it was. My son expected the other kids to be like the kids he socialized with in his preschool. But those kids were either gifted or older, some of them several years older. He never engaged in the teasing and taunting games of the other kids and, being a highly sensitive kid, he took everything deeply to heart when the other kids targeted him in those "games." Sadly, those games started on the very first day of school, pretty much in the very first minute.

My son had been used to a school environment where the kids were not segregated by age and were free to associate with whichever kids they wanted to associate with. That meant that my son, at age four, could be friends with kids his own age as well as older kids, some quite a bit older. He had been the favorite playmate of many of the children, who always ran to him when he arrived.

He expected the same experience, but had pretty much the opposite one when he started kindergarten. He was ready to make new friends and learn new things and his excitement was practically palpable. The kids he encountered, though, didn't seem so eager to be friends with him. Instead, from the very first day, some of them began to tease him. He wasn't a big kid, so they teased him about being small.

My son didn't seem to have anything in common with any of the other children in his small kindergarten class of about twelve children. None of the children in his class were gifted, although one was quite smart. Unfortunately, her parents had been among those who let their children know how smart they are and this child considered herself smarter than everyone else. She apparently saw my son as competition and teased him relentlessly. The other kids followed her lead.

That bright little girl, therefore, had no interest in forming a friendship with my son. Not only did she not want to be friends with "the competition," she also had little interest in being friends with a boy.

My son, on the other hand, didn't care if a child was male or female. What mattered to him was whether they had anything in common and the other child could talk with him.

What saved my son in kindergarten is that the class got a new student a few weeks after school started. This new student was a gifted little girl. She and my son found each other and became very close friends.

I thought, and still think, that it's very unfortunate that we think kids aren't properly socialized unless they get along with their age-mates. For my son, that would have meant participating in some of the hurtful taunting and teasing so common among little kids. He didn't like having his feelings hurt and he never intentionally hurt the feelings of other kids.

Read more about my experiences raising my son.

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