Comparison of social adjustment between home and traditionally schooled students


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Comparison of social adjustment between home and traditionally schooled students
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x, 299 leaves : ; 29 cm.
Shyers, Larry Edward, 1948-
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Social adjustment   ( lcsh )
School children -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Home schooling -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Counselor Education thesis Ph.D
Dissertations, Academic -- Counselor Education -- UF
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Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Florida, 1992
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 260-297)
Statement of Responsibility:
by Larry Edward Shyers.
General Note:
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University of Florida
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Copyright 1992


Larry Edward Shyers


I would first like to thank my God for giving me

the knowledge, strength, and opportunity to complete

this project. Without Him I could not have been


Next to Him, I thank my parents who have provided

constant and consistent emotional support and encourage-

ment. They were always confident the project would be

successfully completed.

A very special thanks goes to my committee chair-

person, Dr. Joe Wittmer. His guidance, support, and

friendship have been especially appreciated. His

willingness to become my committee chairperson during

the final stages has won my highest esteem.

I also thank the rest of my committee for their

consistent encouragement, assistance, and perseverance.

Each of them provided considerable guidance and tech-

nical assistance.

I wish to thank Dr. Larry Loesch for the time and

effort he spent providing statistical assistance. I

also thank Dr. Mark Young for providing access to

Stetson University's computer system and hours of

instruction in its use.

Appreciation is also extended to the hundreds of

children and parents with whom I had the privilege to

work. Without their cooperation, this study would not

be possible.

Last, but definitely not least, I thank my wife and

children. They had to endure numerous days and nights

without me while the doctoral studies were completed.

Their love and devotion kept me going, especially during

the rough times.


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................... iii

ABSTRACT .......................................... ix


I INTRODUCTION ............................ 1

Need for the Study ...................... 6
Purpose of the Study ................... 10
Statement of the Problem ............... 11
Definitions ............... ............... 12
Organization of the Study ............... 12


Social Adjustment ....................... 14

Social Development in Children ........ 14
Psychosexual Theory of Social
Development ........................ 17
Psychosocial Theory of Social
Development ........................ 19
Social Learning Theory of Social
Development ........................ 26
Cognitive-Development Theory of Social
Development ........................ 32
Summary of Social Development ......... 42

Correlates of Childhood Social Adjustment 45

Age and Social Adjustment ............. 45
Sex Differences and Social Adjustment 48
Assertiveness and Social Adjustment ... 52
Self-Concept and Social Adjustment .... 54
Socioeconomic Status and Social
Adjustment ......................... 57
Schooling Experience and Social
Adjustment ......................... 59

Comparative Literature on Schooling
Alternatives ....................... 64

The Public School Movement ............ 64

The Home-School Movement ............. 75
Summary of School Alternatives and
Social Adjustment ................. 88

Assessment of Social Adjustment ......... 89

Evidence of Social Adjustment ......... 92

Assertiveness ...................... 92
Self-Concept ....................... 93
Behavior ........................... 95

Assessment Instruments ............... 96

Children's Assertive Behavior Scale. 96
Piers-Harris Children's Self-Concept
Scale ............................ 101
Direct Observation Form ............ 104

Summary ................................. 109

III METHODOLOGY ............................ 112

Research Design ......................... 113
Research Questions ...................... 113
Population .............................. 114

Traditional School Population........... 116
Home School Population ............... 117

Selection of Participants ............... 119
Research Procedures ..................... 124

Paper and Pencil Assessments .......... 124
Free Play and Group Behavior Procedures 126

Observer Training and Observation
Procedures ............................ 129

Instrumentation ......................... 133

Piers-Harris Children's Self-Concept
Scale .............................. 133
Children's Assertive Behavior Scale ... 135
Direct Observation Form .............. 137
Demographic Questionnaire ............. 138

Hypotheses .............................. 139
Data Analysis .......................... 139
Delimitations .......................... 141
Limitations ............................. 141

IV RESULTS ................................. 143

Research Subjects ....................... 143
Test Results ............ ................ 162
Hypotheses .................... .......... 162

Hypothesis One ........................ 172
Hypothesis Two ........................ 175
Hypothesis Three ...................... 175

FURTHER RESEARCH ...................... 183

Limitations of the Study ................ 184
Evaluation and Discussion of the Results. 185

Hypothesis One ........................ 185
Hypothesis Two ........................ 186
Hypothesis Three ...................... 187

Implications and Recommendations for
Further Research ...................... 198
Conclusions ... .. ........................ 203








G LETTER OF INVITATION ................... 230








M-1 ANALYSIS FOR 8-YEAR-OLDS ......... 257

M-2 ANALYSIS FOR 9-YEAR-OLDS ......... 258

M-3 ANALYSIS FOR 10-YEAR-OLDS ........ 259

REFERENCES ....................................... 260

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ............................. 299


Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fullfillment of
the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy



Larry Edward Shyers

May 1992

Chairman: Paul J. Wittmer
Major Department: Counselor Education

Traditional schools provide for regular classroom

contact with children of the same age, and it is assumed

that this regular contact with other children aids appro-

priate social adjustment. By their very nature, home

schools do not provide for regular formal classroom contact

with children other than siblings. Because of this obvious

difference, parents, educators, legislators, and courts have

questioned whether children schooled at home are as socially

well adjusted as their agemates in traditional programs.

Investigation of this possible difference was the focus of

this study.

This study compared the social adjustment of 70

children educated at home with that of 70 children educated

in a traditional school setting. Three correlates of social

adjustment were identified through a review of the

literature: self-concept, behavior, and assertiveness.

Each was assessed in children of both populations.

The results of this study imply that children between

the ages of 8 and 10 have similar beliefs about themselves

regardless of how they are schooled. All age groups in both

research populations had self-concept scores higher than the

national average as measured by the Piers-Harris Children's

Self-Concept Scale.

The results of this study further indicate that

children from both schooling environments participating in

this study achieved scores on the Children's Assertive

Behavior Scale revealing slightly passive understanding of

social situations.

According to the results of this study, children

between the ages of 8 and 10 who had been educated entirely

in a home school had significantly fewer problem behaviors,

as measured by the Direct Observation Form of the Child

Behavior Checklist, than children of the same age from

traditional schools. Children of this age in this study,

who had been educated entirely in traditional schools,

revealed problem behaviors above the normal range for

national populations of the same age.

It can be concluded from the results of this study that

appropriate social skills can develop apart from formal

contact with children other than siblings. This supports

the belief held by home school proponents.



Although home-centered schooling appears to some as

a new and revolutionary phenomenon (Pollard, 1987;

Stayer, 1987), home-centered education has existed since

the beginning of humanity's existence (Beckham, 1985;

Moore, 1984; Nolte, 1982; Taylor, 1986). Formal educa-

tion in the United States for the masses did not exist

until the turn of the twentieth century. Anything a

child needed to learn, whether it was language, a voca-

tion, survival skills, or the "social graces," had to

come from his or her parents (Beckham, 1985; Nolte,

1982; Rothstein, 1986). Many of America's most notable

personalities, such as John Quincy Adams, William Penn,

Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Edison, Andrew Carnegie, and

Franklin D. Roosevelt, were the products of a home-

centered education (Moore, 1984; Taylor, 1986).

Home and parent-centered education, so common

historically, began to take a back seat to formal public

instruction in the late 1800s as states implemented laws

to protect children from being exploited in the labor

force (Cremin, 1970, 1977; Nolte, 1982; Spring, 1982,

1986). During the days of the Industrial Revolution

(1880-1924), as millions of immigrant and American

families moved into urban society to take advantage of

new jobs, formal schools became essential agencies to

prepare youngsters to become productive citizens of

their community. Schools became the source of basic

education and the primary center for social adjustment

(Cremin, 1951, 1977; Rothstein, 1986; Spring, 1986;

Tyack, 1967). By 1918 all states had adopted some form

of compulsory attendance laws that placed the state in

primary control of the socialization process (Ovard,

1978). With the exception of deep rural and isolated

territories, the home school nearly disappeared as

parents placed their trust in public institutions to

prepare their children for life in the modern world

(Arons, 1981).

Roger Sipher (1978) described conditions in the

public educational system which existed after World War

II that set the stage for a renewed interest in home

schooling. As the post war "baby boomers" swamped the

public school system, more teachers were needed to fill

the additional classrooms created by the sudden increase

in student population. Sipher claimed that in the rush

to fill these needed teaching positions, many of the

teachers lacked adequate training to instruct this new

generation. Poor teacher preparation, lowered quality

of instruction, and deteriorating social control led the

National Commission on Excellence in Education to issue

its report titled, A Nation at Risk, in April of 1983.

Erickson, Bryan, and Walker (1972) described conditions

in some schools that made quality education impossible.

Kenneth Fish (1970) disclosed that conditions within

some schools were so bad that they had to be closed.

Similar concerns have continued to be expressed into the

1980s and 1990s (Frady & Dunphy, 1985; Helpl Teacher

can't teach, 1980; Kirst, 1984; Tomorrow, 1982; Slater &

Slater, 1990). A lack of ability on the part of some

teachers, over-crowded conditions in the classroom, and

lack of civil control have led to interpersonal problems

between increasing numbers of students and a drop in

academic quality (Moore, 1985b).

As the state and federal governments struggled to

reform the educational system during the 1960s and

1970s, many parents also started to reassess their view

of formal education (Lines, 1987). Fearing a lack of

moral control and a reduction of quality in public

education, many parents began to search for alternative

sources of schooling for their children. Some of the

more affluent families found hope in the multitude of

private religious institutions that had sprung up since

1950 (Gustavsen, 1981; Sipher, 1978; Whitehead & Bird,

1984). Other families merely chose to break with the

system and educate their children themselves (Hansen,

1988; Naisbitt, 1982; Tobak, 1983; Whitehead & Bird,


A fear of legal reprisal for violating state com-

pulsory attendance laws has made it impossible to obtain

accurate figures on the number of parents who are

choosing home-centered education. Current estimates

range from a low of 10,000 to well over one million

(Lines, 1987, 1991; McCurdy, 1985; Moore, 1982; Nais-

bitt, 1982; Tobak, 1983; Whitehead & Bird, 1984).

However, there is little doubt that the movement toward

home schooling is growing (Common & MacMullen, 1987;

Lines, 1987, 1991; Naisbitt, 1982). Raymond Moore

(1985b), a major proponent of the home school movement,

stated that home schooling is the "fastest growing

educational movement in America." It has been estimated

that the numbers of home schoolers is growing at the

rate of 100,000 new students per year (Gothard, 1983).

John Naisbitt (1982) predicted that the numbers of

parents choosing to educate their children at home will

continue to increase well into the 21st century.

The growing number of parents who are willing to

risk a fine and/or imprisonment in order to provide what

they believe is a quality and responsible schooling

experience has generated numerous questions that must be

addressed (Gustavsen, 1981; Johnson, 1991; Ray & Wartes,

1991; Taylor, 1986). For example, at the turn of the

century, adequate socialization meant that each child

had the ability to become a productive citizen of his or

her community (Clausen, 1978; Cremin, 1951; Kaestle,

1983). In order for the child to become a productive

member, he or she had to be able to read and write

English, understand the common laws of the land,

maintain a vocation, and live in harmony with other

members of the community (Cremin, 1970; Nolte, 1982;

Ovard, 1978; Rothstein, 1986). It was the belief that

adequate socialization could only be guaranteed through

formal education that prompted implementation of compul-

sory attendance laws (Beckham, 1985; Cremin, 1988;

Franzosa, 1984; McCaul, 1989). If adequate socializa-

tion can be achieved only through formal education, the

question of the effect of home schooling on the process

of socialization should be raised.

Attempts to answer this question have included

consideration of the academic achievement of home

schooled children and the adequacy of their preparation

for higher education and employment. The results of

numerous studies have indicated that home schooled

children received scores on nationally standardized

achievement tests that were equal to or higher than

children in traditional educational programs (Devins &

Zirkel, 1986; Gustavsen, 1981; Home Education, 1986;

Moore, 1982; Ray & Wartes, 1991). Other researchers

also suggested that home schooled children were ade-

quately prepared for higher education and employment

(Lines, 1987; Montgomery, 1989; Moore, 1982, 1984,

1985a, 1985b; Taylor, 1986; Williams, Arnoldsen & Rey-

nolds, 1984). However, one question has continued to

surface throughout the literature; that was, are home

schooled children as well adjusted socially as their

agemates in traditional educational programs (Adams,

1984; Devins & Zirkel, 1986; Franzosa, 1984; Johnson,

1991; Kendall, 1982; Moore, 1982, 1984, 1985b; Pollard,

1987; Smith, 1986)?

Need For The Study

This study was designed to address the question of

how home schooled children compared in social adjustment

to their agemates attending traditional public educa-

tional programs. Leading proponents of the home school

movement believed that children educated at home were as

socially well adjusted as children attending traditional

schools, if not more so (Moore & Moore, 1981). Replic-

able research, however, has not yet been conducted among

home-schoolers to support this belief.

Parents who consider educating their children at

home are frequently fearful of the impact upon their

children's social lives (Johnson, 1991; Moore & Moore,

1975; Williams et al., 1984). Taylor (1986) described a

study of 441 families in the state of Washington in

which most of the people who heard about home schooling

for the first time questioned its social impact before

they asked about academics. McCurdy (1985) suggested

that many parents were concerned about how their

children's social development might affect their

becoming good and productive citizens. Some children

have also expressed concerns over the social implica-

tions of home schooling (Golowoch, 1991; "More parents,"

1991; Slater & Slater, 1990). For example, Pollard

(1987), in an interview with one home school family from

Middletown, Ohio, disclosed that the children often

expressed feelings of social isolation.

A prevalent societal belief is that adequate social

adjustment can only take place in an environment of

group interaction (Crockenberg & Bryant, 1978; "Educa-

tors say," 1989; Johnson, 1981). Ladd (1979) and LeCroy

(1983) suggested that the consequences of a lack of peer

contact may be severe, and include phenomena such as

dropping out of school, juvenile delinquency, and mental

health problems. The West Virginia Supreme Court echoed

this concern when it ruled against home school parents,

stating in their opinion that the children were being

separated from organized society and would therefore

become ". incapable of coping with life outside of

their own families" (State v. Riddle, 1981).

Decisions concerning schooling and social adjust-

ment have often been made solely upon feelings and

assumptions and not upon empirical research; therefore,

laws affecting home schooling vary considerably from

state to state (Tobak & Zirkel, 1983). Taylor (1986)

suggested that the prevalence of opposing views indi-

cated "the need for substantial evidence upon which to

base decisions of social implication" (p. 10). The

results of this study can provide empirical data upon

which parents, school systems, courts, and legislatures

can base their decisions about the impact of home

schooling on social adjustment.

Partly because of their concerns about social

adjustment, and partly because of financial considera-

tions, it is estimated that between 50% and 75% of the

families who begin home-centered education for their

children will eventually enroll them in either public or

private religious schools (Lines, 1987; Williams et al.,

1984). If it could be shown that some children in the

home-school movement were not as socially well adjusted

as their agemates, as some suggested (Franzosa, 1984;

Johnson, 1981; Ladd, 1979), it would be necessary for

school guidance and counseling personnel to be prepared

to remediate the problems that could occur when these

children began to interact on a daily basis with their

traditionally schooled peers.

Myrick (1987) stated that guidance and counseling

programs "are designed to enhance personal, social,

vocational, and academic growth" (p. 2). He further

suggested that through special counseling and guidance

interventions children found deficient in social skills

can "catch up before their lack of preparation creates

problems" (p. 14). It is the basic premise of school

guidance to provide for the well being of all learners

(Aubrey, 1982; Bernard & Fulmer, 1977; Capuzzi & Gross,

1989; Lee & Pallone, 1966; Myrick, 1987; Ryan, 1978;

Shertzer & Stone, 1966). Ryan (1978) described school

guidance as being "made up of a number of related ele-

ments: (1) individual analysis; (2) information dis-

semination; (3) counseling; (4) placement; and (5)

followup" (p. 10-11). Ryan further stated:

In any setting the guidance program supports
the mission of pupil-student services by as-
sisting each individual to become a fully
functioning person, capable of maintaining
healthy social relationships, performing as a
responsible citizen of the community, being a
part of the larger society, and contributing
to that society. Guidance services are
concerned with the total person and are
directed to optimizing the potential of the
individual in light of factors in the social
situation and environmental opportunities.
(Ryan, 1978, p.11)

Because a large population of home-educated

children will eventually be enrolled in traditional

schools (Lines, 1987; Myers, 1990; Williams et al.,

1984), it will be necessary for the schools and the rest

of society to be adequately prepared. Thus, this study

was needed to provide empirical data to school coun-

selors, parents, teachers, courts, and legislatures upon

which they can base decisions about home schooling and

social adjustment.

Purpose of the Study

This study was designed to compare the social

adjustment of children aged 8 through 10 from two

different educational backgrounds: home school and

traditional schools. Formal education was made com-

pulsory during the late 1800s and early 1900s to provide

for the common welfare of America (Beckham, 1985;

Cremin, 1951, 1970, 1977, 1980; Cubberly, 1934; Kaestle,

1983; Nolte, 1982; Seybolt, 1971; Spring, 1986). The

primary concern was to guarantee that children would be

adequately socialized to become productive citizens by

providing for common basic skills such as reading,

writing, and arithmetic (Nolte, 1982; Rothstein, 1986;

Sipher, 1978).

Since 1909, the schooling process also has included

an increased involvement by school guidance and counsel-

ing personnel for the purpose of developing the whole

person for his or her role in society (Aubrey, 1982;

Bernard & Fulmer, 1977; Capuzzi & Gross, 1989; Muro &

Dinkmeyer, 1977). Until the 1950s, it was widely

accepted by parents that their children were receiving,

through the formal schools, the quality of social

training and guidance necessary to be good Americans

(Sipher, 1978). Since that time, as parents have begun

to question the role of the state in educating and

socializing their children, many parents have sought

alternative sources of the schooling experience (Dylan,

1990; Nolte, 1982). One such alternative chosen by

parents is the home school ("Home schooling," 1990;

Williams et al., 1984). Although it has been shown that

home schooled children achieve academically at a level

equal to or greater than their agemates in traditional

programs (Lines, 1987; Moore, 1982, 1984, 1985a, 1985b;

Ray & Wartes, 1991; Taylor, 1986), the effect of home

schooling on the social skills of children has not been


Statement of the Problem

The primary question raised by parents, educators,

school counselors, judges, and this researcher was

whether children who are educated in a home school away

from the interactions provided by formal education as

socially well adjusted as their agemates in traditional

programs (Franzosa, 1984; Ray & Wartes, 1991; Tobak &

Zirkel, 1983; Williams et al., 1984). Although some

researchers have been able to show that children

educated at home have a high self-concept and academic

achievement at levels equal to or higher than their

agemates in traditional schools (Lines, 1987, 1991;

Moore, 1982, 1984, 1985a, 1985b; Taylor, 1986), the

effect of home schooling on social adjustment is largely



For the purpose of this study, the following terms

are defined.

A home school is any home or parent-centered learn-

ing situation in which children are educated at home

rather than in a conventional school setting. Parents

or guardians assume full responsibility for the educa-

tional program of their children (Mattingly, 1990;

Moore, 1984).

Social adjustment refers to the combination of a

knowledge of appropriate assertive social responses,

high self-concept, and the ability to behave in socially

acceptable ways (McCandless, 1967).

Traditional education (or conventional school

programs) refers to any program, either public or

private, which is responsible for educating children and

is regulated or licensed by a state government.

Organization of the Study

This study is organized into five chapters. Chapter

1 includes an introduction to the problem, need for the

study, purpose of the study, statement of the problem,

and definition of the specialized terms used. Chapter 2


presents a review of related literature pertaining to

schooling experience and social adjustment. Chapter 3

is a description of the methodology employed in this

study, including a description of the population, the

sample used for this study, procedures used, and

research hypotheses. Chapter 4 is a description of the

data generated by the research methods delineated in

Chapter 3. Chapter 5 is composed of a discussion of the

data, conclusions, and recommendations.



In this chapter the researcher presents a review of

the professional literature regarding schooling and

social adjustment of children. A discussion of social

development and adjustment is presented first. Litera-

ture on schooling options is then reviewed, including an

examination of traditional and home schools as they

affect a child's social adjustment. Finally, literature

supporting the use of the Children's Assertive Behavior

Scales (CABS), Piers-Harris Children's Self-Concept

Scale (PHSCS), and Direct Observation Form (DOF) of the

Child Behavior Checklist in socialization research is


Social Adjustment

Social Development in Children

It has been said that a person who is deemed

socially well adjusted "has acquired the beliefs, at-

titudes, and behaviors that are thought to be appro-

priate for members of his or her culture" (Shaffer,

1979, p. 7). However, one who is socially maladjusted

is "unable to affect the behaviour and feelings of

others in the way he intends and society accepts"



(Trower, Bryant, Argyle, & Margillier, 1978, p.2). The

process by which one develops these socially appropriate

behaviors is difficult to define due to the numerous

components deemed as constructs (Gresham & Elliott,

1984; Jordan-Davis & Butler, 1985; Rathjen & Foreyt,

1980). For this reason there are dozens of theories of

social development which attempt to explain this complex

process (Craig, 1983; McCandless, 1967; Mussen, Conger,

& Kagan, 1974; Schell, 1975; Shaffer, 1979). Turiel

(1983) stated:

The study of social development requires two inter-
related analyses: the nature of realms of social
interaction and the explanation of processes of
acquisition or development. Social scientists have
extensively considered development and categories
of social interaction, culture, and society.
However, each of the concerns has been dealt with
by separate social scientific disciplines. The
most extensive and explicit investigations of in-
dividual social development, as would be expected,
come from the discipline of psychology. (Turiel,
1983, p. 1)

In an attempt to explain social development, Shaf-

fer (1979) and Hoffman (1970) discussed their belief

that modern theories have evolved from three basic

philosophical and historical perspectives. The first

was espoused by Thomas Hobbes (1904) during the seven-

teenth century and coincides with the religious doctrine

of original sin. The basic premise of this doctrine is

that the individual from the moment of birth begins a

selfish search for satisfaction of urges and self

gratification. A person's social behavior, according to

this philosophy, is determined by his or her selfish

needs (Shaffer, 1979).

The second philosophical perspective was also

introduced during the seventeenth century by British

philosopher John Locke (Kessen, 1965; Muro & Dinkmeyer,

1977; Shaffer, 1979). Locke's philosophy of tabula rasa

describes the child as being neither bad nor good but

rather a blank slate upon which the environment and

experience can write his or her personality. Children

who learn to control inappropriate childhood impulses

are considered to be well adjusted. In order to be well

adjusted socially, children need to be trained in self-

denial by their parents from "their very cradles"

(Locke, as quoted in Shaffer, 1979, p. 12).

The third philosophical perspective suggested by

Shaffer (1979) and Hoffman (1970) viewed the child as an

active participant in his or her social development and

was labeled the doctrine of innate purity. This doc-

trine, represented by eighteenth century philosophers

Immanuel Kant and Jean Jacques Rousseau, states that

children are inherently good, possessing an inborn moral

sense that often can be misdirected by societal demands

and experiences (Kessen, 1965). Children are capable of

shaping their own personalities and can develop "in a

healthy direction if not unduly hampered by the demands

and restrictions of society" (Shaffer, 1979, p.13).

Four psychological theories emerged in the litera-

ture that appear to follow these philosophical perspec-

tives. According to Shaffer (1979), Freud's psycho-

sexual and Erikson's psychosocial theories of develop-

ment are related to the doctrine of original sin.

Bandura and Walter's learning theories of social

development looked more like Locke's philosophy of

tabula rasa. The doctrine of innate purity is best

represented by Piaget and Kohlberg's theories of

cognitive development. Each of these theories of social

development will be briefly described in the pages that


Psychosexual Theory of Social Development

The psychosexual theory of development was sug-

gested, in some of the literature, as an example of

Hobbes' doctrine of original sin (Muro & Dinkmeyer,

1977; Shaffer, 1979). The basic premise of Freud's

(1947) psychoanalytic theory, is "that human beings were

'seething cauldrons' who must constantly seek to gratify

a number of innate sexual and aggressive instincts"

(Shaffer, 1979, p. 13). From this perspective, it

becomes the responsibility of parents and society to

divert the child's socially undesirable behaviors from

his or her natural selfish tendencies to more socially

acceptable ones (George & Cristiani, 1986; Klein, 1975;

McConnell, 1974; Shaffer, 1979). Freud (1964) believed

that appropriate social adjustment is accomplished as

children learn to satisfy their basic drives in ways

acceptable to the adults around them.

Freud (1933) suggested that each individual's

personality and social awareness is shaped as he or she

strives to satisfy these drives in several psychosexual

stages. The first three stages, oral, anal, and phal-

lic, all occur before puberty. During these stages,

children focus their pleasure and drives on different

body areas known as erogenous zones (Craig, 1983; George

& Cristiani, 1986; Mussen et al., 1974). The other two

stages, the latency period and genital stage, occur as

children enter the social world of school and continue

through adolescence (Craig, 1983). If children are

frustrated or receive too much gratification in their

attempts to achieve satisfaction during these stages,

they may develop fixations which may lead to socially

unacceptable behaviors (Craig, 1983; George & Cristiani,

1986; Shaffer, 1979).

Appropriate social adjustment is attained when the

individual achieves a balance among the three struggling

components of the personality, the id, ego, and the

superego (Mussen et al., 1974; Shaffer, 1979). Children

are born with a storehouse of instinctual energy known

as the id (Mussen et al., 1974). As they interact with

adults, they learn more about themselves and their place

in the world in which they live. This knowledge helps

form the level of skills, wishes, fears, language, and

sense of self known as the ego (George & Cristiani,

1986). As their primary drives and urges come into

conflict with the adult world, they are forced to

develop a sense of conscience and a knowledge of accept-

able versus unacceptable behaviors known as the superego

(Mussen et al., 1974; Shaffer, 1979). It is the

superego that acts as the "moral arbiter" in the social

development of children (Hall, 1954). As children

develop the ability to balance the id, ego, and super-

ego, and thereby delay gratification of impulses, they

are capable of learning the skills necessary for social

adjustment (Shaffer, 1979).

It was the emphasis upon adaptation and learning to

cope that led some theorists to believe that social

development may not be as negative as first espoused by

Freud. Several theorists also began the move toward a

more positive perspective. One such theorist was Erik


Psychosocial Theory of Social Development

Erikson (1963, 1972) disagreed with Freud's belief

that children are passive bottles of energy that have to

be diverted and controlled. Although Erikson accepted

the basic belief that people are driven by urges and

instincts, he chose to stress the ego rather than the id

as the primary force in social development (Craig, 1983;

George & Cristiani, 1986). Erikson also believed that

parents are only two of the many social agents by which

children will be influenced. Maier (1969) presented

Erikson's position by stating

Culture adds the human aspect of living. Man lives
by instinctual forces, and culture insists upon the
"proper" use of these forces. It is the
cultural environment which determines the
nature of each individual's experience. The child
and his parents are never alone; through the par-
ent's conscience, generations are looking upon a
child's actions, helping him to integrate his rela-
tionships with their approval. A culture,
class, or ethnic group's basic ways of organizing
experience are transmitted to the child and
tie the child forever to his original milieu.
(Maier, 1969, p. 28)

Because Erikson stressed the sociocultural influen-

ces on personality, his approach is better termed psy-

chosocial rather than psychosexual development (Shaffer,

1979). According to Erikson's theory, a person develops

into a socially adjusted individual through the resolu-

tion of a series of crises involving interactions with

socializing agents (Erikson, 1963, 1968, 1972). McCand-

less (1967) described this process when he stated:

The process of social control and adaptability
starts with the child's interactions with his par-
ents and family, and continues with his playmates,
relatives, and teachers. These socializing agents
must provide a pattern of reward, acceptance, per-
missiveness, and punishment that enables the child
to gain law- and amenity-abiding adulthood yet
remain or become relatively secure, calm, happy,
appropriately masculine or feminine, and vocation-
ally self-sustaining. (McCandless, 1967, p. 418)

According to Erikson (1963, 1972) this process of

human socialization takes place in eight distinct

stages. Appropriate social adjustment requires the

successful resolution of each of eight crises which

occur at certain points in the life cycle (Craig, 1983;

McCandless, 1967; Shaffer, 1979). Although the resolu-

tion of these conflicts is cumulative (each stage of

development affecting the way a person handles the

next), the adjustments a person makes at each stage can

be altered or reversed at a later level (Craig, 1983).

In order to illustrate this point, Craig (1983) des-

cribed children who were denied affection in infancy,

growing to normal adulthood once they received extra

attention at other stages in their development.

The first four stages described by Erikson traced

children's development from birth through the age of

eleven and, therefore, had the greatest relevance to

this study (Craig, 1983; McCandless, 1967; Shaffer,

1979). Stage one is called trust versus mistrust and

covers a period from birth to approximately the end of

the first year. It is during this stage that children

learn about their environment. Their environment either

provides warmth and the fulfillment of basic needs which

generates a sense of trust, or it is perceived as being

cold and unfulfilling and generates a sense of mistrust

(Maier, 1969).

The primary socializing agents during this stage

are the children's mothers. If they provide tender

caresses, soothing vocalizations, as well as the basic

necessities of life, children develop the basis for

trusting interpersonal relations later in life (Shaffer,

1979). If children perceive neglect or inconsistent

care, they learn to mistrust their environment and see

the world as a dangerous, unpredictable place in which

to live (Craig, 1983).

The second stage extends from approximately the

first year of life until age three (Shaffer, 1979).

According to Erikson's (1963) theory, this stage is

characterized by the conflict between autonomy and shame

or doubt. During this period of time, young children

develop mobility and begin to explore their worlds.

They are naturally curious and often find themselves at

odds with parental authority (Craig, 1983; Shaffer,

1979). Children begin to learn bodily control and are

either praised or punished based upon their performance.

Parents begin to restrict their children's assertiveness

for the purpose of creating social responsibility and

self-control (Shaffer, 1979).

The resolution of the crisis between children's

desires to become autonomous and their desires to

regress to the more dependent first stage depends upon

parental reaction to their rapidly emerging assertive

behaviors. Overreaction in the form of extreme punitive

measures or over restriction could cause children to

doubt their ability to act independently or cause them

to feel great shame when they fail to accomplish ex-

pected tasks (Craig, 1983; McCandless, 1967; Shaffer,

1979). Children who are successful in resolving this

crisis through the assistance of firm yet patient

parents learn independence and assertive skills neces-

sary for appropriate social interactions (Erikson, 1963;

Maier, 1969).

Initiative versus guilt is the crisis that has to

be resolved according to Erikson's third stage of social

development (Erikson, 1963). This stage begins sometime

during the third year and continues until approximately

age 5 or 6 (McCandless, 1967). During this time child-

ren begin to assume responsibility for their own care

and hygiene as well as their belongings (Shaffer, 1979).

This is also the time of healthy imagination and curios-

ity. Children begin to learn to cooperate with others

and to initiate play (McCandless, 1967).

If parents stimulate healthy curiosity and applaud

efforts that are appropriate while they carefully guide

the young minds away from dangerous or inappropriate

activities, children gain a sense of initiative for the

pursuit of socially acceptable goals (Shaffer, 1979).

If, on the other hand, parents criticize, severely


punish or otherwise stand in the way of their children's

initiative, the children learn to repress their drives

and develop a sense of guilt for their own inactions

(Craig, 1983; Maier, 1969; McCandless, 1967).

The fourth of Erikson's stages of development

begins around the sixth year and continues until around

age 12 (Erikson, 1963, 1972). This period is character-

ized by a crisis between industry and inferiority

(Craig, 1983; Maier, 1969). It is also characterized by

the usual entrance of children into formal education.

Children begin to turn away from the primary focus of

the family and to seek an identity among school-age

peers. This is the time of intense social comparison

for those children who become part of the formal educa-

tional system (Shaffer, 1979).

Shaffer (1979) suggested that the reason children

turn toward peer groups is a recognition that they are

still children and lack the skills necessary to compete

with typical adults. This feeling of inferiority is

what generates the crisis. Children become concerned

that they might not become sufficiently competent in

their own eyes nor the eyes of others. If children

manage to develop the social and technical skills neces-

sary to compete effectively in the social world around

them, they develop a sense of industriousness that

prepares them for the crises to come. If, however, they

do not become proficient within their own eyes, they

develop a sense of inferiority which makes it difficult

for them to progress into adulthood (Maier, 1969).

The primary socializing agents during this period

are the children's social contacts other than their

parents. The influence of peers, teachers, and tele-

vision heros become the focus of attention and the

standard by which children compare and measure their

progress toward competence (Craig, 1983).

The next four stages presented by Erikson cover the

period of time from adolescence to the end of life

(Erikson, 1963, 1972; Maier, 1969). The success of an

individual progressing through the last four stages

depends largely upon how successful he or she has been

in becoming socially well adjusted during the initial

four stages (McCandless, 1967).

Although Erikson's psychosocial theory of develop-

ment is more positive than Freud's psychosexual theory,

it still relies upon the development of coping skills

and adapting to the environment around a person. The

social learning theories of Bandura and Walters (1967)

however, rely upon the ability of children to learn

appropriate social behaviors rather than merely reacting

to the circumstances surrounding them.

Social Learning Theory of Social Development

Shaffer (1979) suggested that the learning theories

of social development evolved from Locke's philosophy of

tabula rasa. According to learning theorists, all

behavior, whether good or bad, has to be learned. One

of the earliest learning theorists, John B. Watson,


Give me a dozen healthy infants, well formed, and
my own specified world to bring them up in and I'll
guarantee to take any one at random and train him
to become any type of specialist I might select --
doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant, chief, and yes,
even beggar-man and thief, regardless of his
talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, voca-
tions, and race of his ancestors. There is no such
thing as an inheritance of capacity, talent, tem-
perament, mental constitution, and behavioral char-
acteristics. (as quoted in Shaffer, 1979, p. 14)

Few contemporary social learning theorists would

agree with the extreme stance presented by Watson.

Others, such as Albert Bandura and his associates, have

maintained that children, although born naive and

unknowing, are capable of some degree of self-deter-

mination (Shaffer, 1979). Bandura (1977) suggested that

the child and the environment are in a constant state of

reciprocal interaction. The child is capable of affect-

ing the environment in which he or she lives, and the

environment in turn affects the child.

Social learning theory, as described by Bandura

(1977), suggests that all social behaviors are learned

as individuals imitate modeled behaviors. The model may


be anything that conveys observable information (Hergen-

han, 1984). According to Bandura and Walters (1967),

humans learn from observation. Social learning is,

therefore, a cognitive and perceptual process called

"observational learning" (Bandura, 1971a, p.17). Social

learning is affected by attending to the consequences of

their own or other people's behaviors. Depending upon

how behaviors are treated by others, whether applauded

or punished, humans learn which actions benefit them

most (Bandura, 1977).

Bandura (1977) described four processes which he

believed influenced what people would attend to, what

they would retain, and how learning would produce social

behavior. The first is the attentional process which

includes aspects of the environment that helps determine

what will demand a person's attention. Since children

are constantly exposed to numerous social models, Ban-

dura (1971a) suggested that these models had to have

certain characteristics before children would pay atten-

tion to the exhibited social behavior. Some of those

characteristics are a willingness to reward, an ability

to nurture, competence, and a position of social power.

If the child perceives that the modeled behavior is

positively rewarded, he or she is more likely to pay

attention and imitate it than if the behavior receives

no reward or is treated negatively (Craig, 1983; Mussen


et al., 1974; Schell, 1975). Bandura and his associates

also suggested that children pay more attention to

models they consider sources of warmth, prestige, or

power (Bandura, 1971a, 1971b, 1977; Bandura & Mischel,

1965; Bandura & Walters, 1967). Other factors which

determine what will hold children's attention include

self-esteem, their similarity to the model, and an

intrinsic interest in the modeled activity (Craig, 1983;

Shaffer, 1979; Staub, 1979).

Bandura (1971a) called the second step in learning

social behavior the retention process. Observers must

be able to commit modeled behaviors to memory if they

are to be able to reproduce them later on their own.

Two methods of retention are used by the observer

according to Bandura (1971a, 1977). One method requires

storing the observed behavior in the form of visual

images which the observer can replay, substituting

themselves in place of the model. Other observations

are stored as verbal codes which serve as cues the

observer can call upon as social situations require

reproduction of the action (Shaffer, 1979). These

verbal codes also enable the observer to store complex

information that would otherwise be difficult to recall

(Bandura, 1977; Coates & Hartup, 1969).

After the observer has committed the modeled behav-

iors to some form of symbolic memory, it is necessary to

translate these symbols into consistent actions (Shaf-

fer, 1979). Bandura (1971a, 1977) referred to this

third step as the motoric reproduction process. In

order for social behavior to be consistent, the

individual must have the physical ability to execute all

of the component responses (Shaffer, 1979). Some behav-

iors require little or no practice for perfect emulation

of the model. Many behaviors, however, require regular

practice with success measured in small steps and fre-

quent adjustments. Bandura (1971b) described this when

he stated, "In most everyday learning, people usually

achieve only rough approximations of new patterns of

behavior by modeling and refining them through self-

corrective adjustments on the basis of informative

feedback from performance" (p. 8).

In order for socially acceptable behavior to con-

tinue, the observer must receive some form of positive

reinforcement through Bandura's (1977) fourth step which

he referred to as the motivational process. Reinforce-

ment can be given directly or vicariously through the

observation of rewards given to other social models.

Likewise, without some form of reinforcement, the

learned social behavior will eventually disappear

(McCandless, 1967; Schell, 1975). Although reinforce-

ment is necessary for a response to be performed consis-

tently, Bandura (1969) explained that a response did not

have to be performed to be learned. It can be stored

away for use much later in the future or rehearsed

mentally as often as the observer chooses.

Social training requires that the modeling of

behaviors and their consequences be directed toward

helping a child learn to express aggression, dependency

and other social responses in appropriate ways through

these four processes (Bandura & Walters, 1967). Social

adjustment also requires that the individual learn both

adequate generalization and sharp discrimination, since

learned patterns of response often must be applied to

situations other than the original learning experience.

McCandless (1967) stated that it is this generalization

of appropriate behaviors that is necessary for a child

to be socially well adjusted. Adequate social adjust-

ment also requires that a child learn to control his or

her own behaviors by delaying personal gratification or

ceasing socially unacceptable activities. Bandura

(1977) described the social learning process as being

self-regulating once a child has accepted the social

behavior as his or her own through internalization. He


The anticipation of self-reproach for conduct that
violates one's standards provides a source of moti-
vation to keep behavior in line with standards in
the face of opposing inducements. There is no more
devastating punishment than self-contempt.
(Bandura, 1977, p. 154)

The social-learning theory has been suggested as

having implications for understanding the development of

peer dependency in pre-adolescents and adolescents

(Brophy, 1977; Doise & Palmonari, 1984; Muus, 1976). As

Bandura (1971a) believed, children will learn anything

which they choose to observe. Muus (1976), who examined

numerous studies before coming to his conclusion, sug-

gested that adolescents pay close attention to their

agemates due to their similarities and seeming sense of

competence. Bronfenbrenner (1970) discovered that the

more time children spend with others of their same age,

the more peer dependent they become. Bandura and Wal-

ters (1967) suggested that this peer dependency, with

its modeled social behaviors, is consistently rewarded

through peer acceptance and therefore is self-reinforc-

ing. This cyclical social learning pattern was de-

scribed by Shaffer (1979) when he stated:

The environment surely affects the child; but the
child's response is thought to affect the environ-
ment. The implication is that children are activ-
ely involved in shaping the very environments that
influence their development. (Shaffer, 1979, p.

Social learning theory provides an explanation that

permits children the opportunity to learn from their own

or others experience, whether or not the experience is

pleasant. The theory tends to place the burden for

social learning on others rather than on the child.

Adjustment takes place as a child learns to adjust his

or her understanding or desires to avoid unpleasant

consequences or create positive reward. The next theory

to be discussed, however, places more of the

responsibility for social adjustment on the natural

processes of human development.

Cognitive-Development Theory of Social Development

The cognitive-developmental theories of Jean Piaget

and Lawrence Kohlberg most resemble the doctrine of

innate purity as presented by the 18th century philos-

ophers Immanuel Kant and Jean Jacques Rousseau (Muro &

Dinkmeyer, 1977; Shaffer, 1979; Watson & Lindgren,

1973). The cognitive-developmental theory stresses the

ability of children to adapt to their social environ-

ments as they develop cognitive skills. Instead of

mirroring experiences or learning to restrict behaviors

in order to gain the favor of parents as described in

the theories previously presented, children create

experiences and by doing so make changes themselves

(Craig, 1983; Langer, 1969). As they develop the neces-

sary cognitive skills, children learn how to interpret

interpersonal relations and react according to their

understandings (Kohlberg, 1969). For this reason, cog-

nitive-developmental theorists conclude that intellec-

tual and social development occur together (Piaget &

Inhelder, 1969; Shaffer, 1979).

Jean Piaget, through years of observation and

experimentation, concluded that intellectual and social

development progress through four distinct stages.

These stages are sensorimotor, which lasts from birth up

to age 2; preoperational, from ages 2 to 7; concrete-

operational, lasting from ages 7 to 11; and formal-

operational, covering ages 12 and above (Craig, 1983;

Mussen et al., 1974; Piaget & Inhelder, 1969; Shaffer,

1979). As children progress through these stages, they

either assimilate or accommodate information, percep-

tions, or experiences, depending on how they fit into

their structures of understanding (Craig, 1983; Shaffer,


The first of Piaget's developmental stages is the

sensorimotor stage, which begins with birth and con-

tinues to approximately age 2 (Beard, 1969; Boyle, 1969;

Piaget, 1952). Although this stage is divided into six

substages, they are all characterized by sensual learn-

ing. In other words, children begin to explore their

surroundings through their five senses. As they mature,

they learn that they can manipulate objects to reproduce

sensual stimulation or satisfy basic desires. For exam-

ple, through the process of trial and error, a child who

learns that squeezing a rubber duck produces a quack,

can continue to squeeze it each time he or she wants to

hear the quack (Shaffer, 1979). By the end of the

sensorimotor stage, children have learned to think out

basic solutions to problems with out engaging in trial-

and-error. Piaget (1952) illustrated the ability of

children to anticipate the outcome of their actions with

his son Laurent:

Laurent is seated before a table and I place a
bread crust in front of him, out of reach. Also,
to the right of the child I place a stick about 25
cm. long. At first Laurent tries to grasp the
bread and then he gives up Laurent
again looks at the bread, without moving, looks
very briefly at the stick, then suddenly grasps it
and directs it toward the bread he draws the
bread to him. (Piaget, 1952, p.335)

At the end of the sensorimotor stage the child

learns to internalize the problem solving process. The

child progresses from being a reflexive individual, to

being a thinking organism capable of interacting with

his or her environment (Beard, 1969; Boyle, 1969; Pulas-

ki; 1971; Shaffer, 1979). The ability of the child to

use mental symbols for problem solving becomes an impor-

tant element of thought as he or she enters the second

of Piaget's developmental stages (Shaffer, 1979).

Piaget called his second stage the preoperational

phase, which he further divided into two sub-stages.

The first is the preconceptual stage, which lasts from

about 2 to 4 years of age; and the second is the intui-

tive stage, which lasts from age 4 until approximately

age 7 (Muro & Dinkmeyer, 1977; Piaget, 1952; Piaget &

Inhelder, 1969). During the preconceptual stage


children's language develops rapidly, further enhancing

their intellectual development (Muro & Dinkmeyer, 1977).

Their understandings, however, are marked by flawed

concepts. Thoughts of children during this period are

egocentric, considering everything in relationship to

themselves (Shaffer, 1979). This egocentrism makes it

difficult for children to accept other points of view

(Harter, 1983).

In the intuitive sub-stage, children learn to think

in terms of classes, numbers and relationships. They

can respond using appropriate terminology, but can not

provide reasons for their responses (Muro & Dinkmeyer,

1977). It is called intuitive because the child's com-

prehension of objects and events is centered on their

single most salient feature (Shaffer, 1979). Piaget

(1952) demonstrated that children lack the ability to

view events or objects separate from its physical ap-

pearance in his well-known conservation experiments

(Beard, 1969; Craig, 1983; Shaffer, 1979). Children's

thoughts are concrete and are based upon experiences in

the here and now. They lack the ability to mentally

reverse the process (Craig, 1983).

During the preoperational stage, children have not

yet developed the social ability to understand some of

the complexities of relationships. A child may be able

to recognize that Mommy and Daddy are husband and wife,

but may not understand that Mommy can also be someone's

aunt (Longstreth, 1974). Children recognize that they

are either boys or girls, but can be fooled whether

others are male or female based upon their clothing.

This lack of understanding of relationships and gender

identification must be clarified within the next stage

before social reason and role identification can be

accomplished (Boyle, 1969; Chandler, 1982; Harter, 1983;

Shaffer, 1979).

The third stage, which spans from approximately age

seven to age eleven, is called the concrete-operational

stage (Piaget, 1952). During this stage children learn

to think in relational terms developing logic, mental

representations, and an ability to think in numerical

concepts (Shaffer, 1979). All of these cognitive abil-

ities are higher levels of reason and are necessary, for

children to develop adequate social relationships (Pia-

get & Inhelder, 1969). Children learn that people are

not objects but individuals with feelings and reactions

as valid as their own.

Because of the ability of children to develop

reasonable and logical conclusions, Piaget and Inhelder

(1969) stated that

the child of seven and over is more socialized than
the self of early childhood .. It is at the
stage of concrete operations that new interpersonal
relations of a cooperative nature are established,
and there is no reason why these should be limited
to cognitive exchanges. (pp. 117-118)

Social exchanges prior to this stage are pre-

cooperative. Piaget and Inhelder (1969) explained that

they are "at once social from the point of view of the

subject and centered upon the child and his own activity

from the point of view of the observer" (p. 118).

This period of time, also referred to as middle

childhood by some authorities (Clarke-Stewart & Koch,

1983; Craig, 1983; Mussen et al., 1974), is the period

in which children learn to reason and carry out logical

operations. They learn to manipulate objects in a

series as well as in reversible order. With these

abilities they begin to develop the complex reasoning

necessary for interpersonal relationships (Clark-Stewart

& Koch, 1983). They start developing the ability to

think in different dimensions, being able to coordinate

the multitude of roles, attitudes, and values of others.

They become capable of mutual cooperation in groups of

three or more people (Clark-Stewart & Koch, 1983).

The concrete-operational stage of development was

described by Piaget as being the period in which child-

ren begin to recognize that individuals within a society

need to live by a set of rules (Piaget & Inhelder,

1969). Rules are seen by children as rigid moral ab-

solutes (Piaget, 1932). Anyone who chooses to break one

of the rules would be classed as a "cheat" by his or her

playmates (Shaffer, 1979). It is not until children


reach the age of 12, which begins the formal-operational

stage, that they learn that rules are arbitrary

agreements that can be challenged and changed through

mutual agreement (Shaffer, 1979).

The formal-operational stage, which Piaget (1952)

stated starts at age 12 and continues through adulthood,

is characterized by the individual's ability to use all

of the cognitive abilities gained during the previous

three stages. The individual learns to think abstractly

and use hypothetical situations to test beliefs or

actions (Shaffer, 1979). Although some researchers have

indicated that not all adolescents or adults will attain

the level of formal operations (Bruner, Oliver, & Green-

field, 1966; Goodnow & Bethon, 1966; Inhelder, 1966;

Jackson, 1965), others support Piaget's belief that all

adults progress from sensorimotor through preconceptual

to concrete-operations and finally formal-operations in

their social development (Brainerd, 1976; Flavell, 1977;

Tulkin & Konner, 1973).

Lawrence Kohlberg (1969) expanded Piaget's theory

in order to create an understanding of social phenomena

such as attachment and dependency, sex-role development,

altruism, and the growth of morality. Although dif-

fering in some areas, Kohlberg felt that his work sup-

ported the concepts of morality that had been suggested

by Piaget (Kohlberg, 1963). He proposed that children's

social and moral development progressed through three

levels, each containing six stages (Muro & Dinkmeyer,

1977). Kohlberg (1976) gave a brief description of the

meaning of the three levels when he wrote:

One way of understanding the three levels is to
think of them as three different types of relation-
ships between the self and society's rules and
expectations. From this point of view, Level I is
a preconventional person, for whom rules and social
expectations are something external to the self;
Level II is a conventional person, in whom the self
is identified with or has internalized the rules
and expectations of others, especially those of
authorities; and Level III is a postconventional
person, who has differentiated his self from the
rules and expectations of others and defines his
values in terms of self-chosen principles.
(Italics in the original. p. 33)

Kohlberg (1976) suggested that a different socio-

moral perspective forms the foundation at each level of

moral judgement. At Level I it is the concrete indivi-

dual's perspective, at Level II it is the perspective of

a member of society, and at Level III it is the per-

spective of an individual prior to entering as an active

addition to society (Staub, 1979). For example, at

Level I, a child thinks only about his or her interests

and those of others he or she cares about. A Level II

child shares viewpoints that focus on the needs of the

group to which he or she belongs. The Level III in-

dividual's commitment to moral principles precedes his

or her acceptance of society's perspective (Staub,

1979). The Level III person "holds the standards on

which a good or just society must be based" (Kohlberg,

1976, p. 36).

The characteristics that mark each social stage

depend upon the interplay between two important factors

which are, the child's level of cognitive development,

and the kinds of social experiences the child encounters

(Colby & Kohlberg, 1984; Kohlberg, 1969; Shaffer, 1979).

Explaining his emphasis on cognitive development, Kohl-

berg (1969) stated:

On the logical side, our approach claims that
social development is cognitively based because any
description of the shape or pattern of social re-
sponses necessarily entails some cognitive dimen-
sions. Description of the organization of the
child's social responses entails a description of
the way in which he perceives, or conceives, the
social world and the way in which he conceives
On the empirical side the cognitive-devel-
opmental approach derives from the fact that
most marked changes in the psychological
development of the child are cognitive, in the
mental age or IQ sense. The influence of
intelligence on children's social attitudes
and behavior is such that it has a greater
number of social-behavior correlates than any
other aspect of personality. (pp. 372-373)

The kinds of social experiences Kohlberg (1969)

believed must accompany cognitive development in order

for a child to achieve social adjustment are those that

require the taking of roles. Staub (1979) suggested

that the following list represents the kinds of exper-

iences Kohlberg believed were necessary for children to

adjust socially:

1. Frequent interaction with others in varied
situations and occupying different roles in these
situations in relation to others.
2. Participation in varied social groups. A
member of a group may consider the effects of
a decision on himself, as well as on other
members of the group.
3. Leadership in a group. Leadership pro-
vides additional and different opportunities
for role taking. The leader has to consider
the point of view of each member and the ef-
fect of a decision or action on them, in ad-
dition to viewing the event from his (sic) own
4. Membership in groups having potentially
conflicting aims. Membership in such groups
may make it necessary for the individual to
examine the implications of the conflicting
consequences of action on different people, or
on different ideals or goals. (Staub, 1979,
pp. 43-44)

Both Piaget and Kohlberg emphasized that social

adjustment can not take place before a child has devel-

oped the cognitive ability to understand how his or her

actions affect the actions and reactions of others.

Kohlberg took the theory further when he stressed the

impact of social interactions upon the overall develop-

ment of social understanding. The height of social

adjustment occurs when a child has acquired the cogni-

Live ability to understand and this understanding is put

to Lhe LesL ia actual social situations. The period of

highest social development occurs with the added social

influence of formal education and between the ages of 7

and 11 (Kohlberg, 1969; Piaget, 1932).

Summary of Social Development

Each of the theories presented suggested that

saoi ad justement oeeus under the infieonce of other.

Freud's psychosexual theory suggested that children

learn to behave in a socially acceptable manner in order

to satisfy their basic drives. The greatest influence,

therefore, comes from parents who have the respons-

ibility of harnessing the energy of the id and assisting

in the development of an healthy superego. As the child

matures, the rest of society also begins to exert pres-

sure on the child to conform to the accepted behavioral

standards. Failure to conform creates socially mal-

adapted children.

Erikson was less negative when he espoused his

psychosocial theory of development. Social adjustment

occurs, according to this theory, as a child resolves a

series of social crises. Movement into a higher stage

of development depends upon healthy resolutions of the

crises presented in the previous stages. The influences

presented by Erikson begin with the mother and later

progress to teachers and peers. If a child senses posi-

tive resolution to each crisis, he or she develops

acceptable social attitudes such as warmth, trust, and

independence, which are necessary to cope with the next

series of crises. If the child senses negative

influence or a non-resolution of the current crisis, he

or she will learn to be cold, untrusting, and dependent.

Both psychosexual and psychosocial theories sug-

gested that the greatest influence on social development

comes from a child's parents. This belief has great

implications for parents of home school children who

believe that parents are the best source of social

instruction throughout a child's development (Gustavsen,

1981). Other theorists, however, shifted the greatest

level of influence from parents to other segments of


The social learning theorists place lees emphasis

upon a child's inner struggles and more strese upon the

ability of children to learn from their environment.

Social adjustment occurs when children learn what is

acceptable to those around them. If children see cer-

tain behaviors being rewarded, and if they desire the

same reward, they are more likely to imitate the re-

warded behavior. The influence therefore comes from

parents, peers, and others children consider worth

observing. The older a child becomes, the more influen-

tial his or her peers become. aome school parents oft

te this peer influence as a major reason for choosing

to educate their children at home rather than in formal

institutions (Whitehead & Bird, 1984).

The cognitive-development theories of Piaget and

Kohlberg support the need for social interaction for

children to develop appropriate social skills. It was

their belief, however, that social adjustment could not

take place until children had developed the cognitive

abilities necessary to understand those social

interactions and the impact of their actions on others.

Children become socially well adjusted after they

develop the cognitive ability to judge the actions of

others rationally and choose to act in socially accepted

ways based upon positive experiences they or others may

create. The primary influence in this theory is the

environment, which consists of opportunities, sex roles,

modeled behaviors, and social interactions. The great-

eat period of social development comeS aurlng'the con-

creteoperational stage beginning at approximately age

seven and continuing until around age eleven. Many home

school parents have stated they avoid formal education

programs during this period because their children are

too vulnerable to negative social influences and peer

dependency (Monfils, 1991; Moore & Moore, 1975; Slater &

Slater, 1990).

In order for children to become socially well

adjusted, they must learn to control their impulses,

learn appropriate behaviors from others, or develop an

appropriate level of social understandings. How this

learning occurs is explained in various ways by dif-

ferent theorists (Craig, 1983; George & Cristiani, 1986;

Mussen et al., 1974; McCandless, 1967; Shaffer, 1977;

Staub, 1979). These theories also suggested that

childhood social adjustment is correlated with several

other phenomena such as age, sex, attitude towards self

and others, and perceived attitude of others toward the

child. Each of these will be discussed in the next


Correlates of Childhood Social Adjustment

Age and Social Adjustment

One of the factors that affects social adjustment

according to the theories discussed above is age.

Shantz (1975) reviewed data produced by researchers who

studied the social development of children and came to

the following conclusions. Children under the age of 5

are egocentric. Although they are capable of recogn-

izing that other people have perspectives that differ

from their own, they are unable to specify what that

perspective is. They can identify some basic emotions

as displayed by other children, but cannot empathize.

When they are called upon to describe other children,

they tend to use descriptive terms that are highly ego-

centric. For this reason their social skills are min-

imal and based upon personal needs and wants (Shaffer,

1979; Shantz, 1975).

In the period between ages 5 and 7, social cog-

nition becomes more sophisticated, but continues to be

based primarily upon the needs and wants of the individ-

ual. Children are aware that others have thoughts that

do not match their own, although they still can not

accurately infer what those thoughts are (DeVries, 1970;

Flavell, 1968; Rubin, 1973). They have progressed to

the point that they are able to recognize the emotions

of others, but are unable to empathize (Bronfenbrenner,

Harding, & Gallwey, 1958; Feshbach & Roe, 1968; Mood,

Johnson, & Shantz, 1974). Most children in this age

group are capable of communicating their emotions

through facial cues, but are not always accurate in

their interpretation of the cues of others (Burns &

Cavey, 1957; Feshbach & Roe, 1968; Izard, 1971). They

are also capable of determining whether the actions of

others are intentional or accidental (Irwin & Ambron,

1973; Shantz & Voydanoff, 1973). The egocentricity of

the previous age group has also begun to abate, being

replaced by a more concrete description of others, for

example describing them by race, clothing, sex, or job

(Shaffer, 1979; Shantz, 1975).

The middle childhood years of 7 to 11 presents the

greatest advances in social development (Barenboim,

1977; Clark-Stewart & Koch, 1983; Craig, 1983; Mussen et

al., 1974; Shantz, 1975). In discussing his review of

research on children Shaffer (1979) reported his con-

clusions about this age group when he wrote:

The 7- to 11-year-old can infer the emotions of
others who are in situations that are not at all
familiar to him or her. The child's impressions of
others now contain attributes that are much more
subtle or precise in their meaning, such as "shy,"
"considerate," "helpful," "affectionate." When
observing social interactions, 7- to 11-year-olds
attend less to the overt responses of others than
to the underlying motives that may have prompted
these actions. (p. 123)

In the middle childhood period children learn to

reason and carry out logical operations. It is a period

of self-concept development in which the child forms a

sense of belongingness and acceptance (Clark-Stewart &

Koch, 1983; Flapan, 1968; Livesly & Bromley, 1973;

Scarlett, Press, & Crockett, 1971). It is also the

period of sex role identity in which children begin to

associate primarily with same sex peers (Chandler, 1972;

Feffer & Gourevitch, 1960; Flavell, Botkin, Fry, Wright,

& Jarvis, 1968; Mussen et al., 1974). For most child-

ren, this period marks the time in which they must learn

how to deal with some of the complexities and subtleties

of friendships and justice, social rules and manners,

sex-role conventions, obedience to authority, and moral

law (Capuzzi & Gross, 1989; Craig, 1983).

During middle childhood, children's thinking abili-

ties become more sophisticated due to their ability to

monitor their own thinking, memory, knowledge, goals,

and actions (Craig, 1983; Flavell, 1979; Mischel, 1983).

It is during this period of life, and largely due to

their more well developed ability to think, that most

children enter the social world of formal school (Craig,

1983; Higgins & Parsons, 1983; Inkeles, 1974; Suzman,

1974). Social ability and adjustment become crucial

areas of concern due to increased interaction with peers)

in formal school programs (Bauer, 1991; Hartup, 1977,

1979; Hoier & Foster, 1985; Mussen et al., 1974; Strain,

Cooke, & Apolloni, 1976). Much of this interaction

during middle childhood involves emerging sex roles and

the development of friendships. The emerging sex roles

and sexual identity have led some researchers to suggest

that males and females experience social development


Sex Differences and Social Adjustment

As children enter their middle childhood period

their interpersonal relationships are characterized by

segregation into same-sex friendships and play groups

(Chandler, 1972; Craig, 1983; Feffer & Gourevitch, 1960;

Flavell et al., 1968; Mussen et al., 1974; Schell,

1975). Whether this same-sex preference is developmen-

tal in nature, as suggested by some (Hops & Finch, 1985;

Maccoby & Jacklin, 1974; Shantz, 1975), or determined by

cultural and social forces, as suggested by others

(Higgins & Parsons, 1983; Mussen et al., 1974), it is

still an observable phenomena (Asher & Hymel, 1981;

Hops, 1983; McConnell & Odom, 1986).

Although children in middle childhood appear to

group together according to sex, research conclusions on

the possible effects of sex differences on social ad-

justment are inconclusive. Maccoby and Jacklin (1974)

reported in their findings that differences that do

exist may be modifiable. Both boys and girls who

received training in deficit skills areas improved, thus

wiping out any significant sex difference in those areas

(Conner, Schackman, & Serbin, 1978; Craig, 1983).

Most of the literature reflected a belief that

society has established the roles that males and females

fill. Kohlberg (1966) theorized that by the time a

child was 5 or 6 he or she had developed the sex-typed

virtues necessary to compete in society. Kagan (1964)

described the social sex-role sterotype when he wrote:

In sum, females are supposed to inhibit aggression
and open display of sexual urges, to be passive
with men, to be nurturant to others, to cultivate
attractiveness, and to maintain an affective, soci-
ally poised, and friendly posture with others.
Males are urged to be aggressive in face of attack,
independent in problem situations, sexually aggres-
sive, in control of regressive urges, and suppres-
sive of strong emotions, especially anxiety. (p.

Although there has been an emphasis during the 1970s and

1980s to limit sex-role stereotyping (Chafel, 1988;

Craig, 1983: Turiel, 1978; Romatowski & Trepanier-

Street, 1987) the sterotype described by Kagan (1964)

remains strong today (Chafel, 1988; Goffman, 1979; Hops

& Finch, 1985; Michelson, Foster, & Ritchey, 1981).

Hymel and Franke (1985) suggested that gender-

related differences deserve critical consideration when

conducting research, because they observed different

patterns of interrelations for boys and girls. Others,

however, reported that the pattern of relationships are

similar for both boys and girls (Asher, Hymel, &

Renshaw, 1984; Craig, 1983; Harter, 1982). Some

researchers reported that girls display higher levels of

social anxiety than boys (Block, 1983; Buss & Brock,

1963; Hymel & Franke, 1985), whereas others suggested

that social anxiety is higher for boys than for girls

(Ollendick, 1981; Trent, 1963). Boys have been observed

to be more aggressive than girls (Kagan & Moss, 1962;

Mischel, 1983; Mussen et al., 1974), but the aggressive-

ness has often been attributed to social situations

rather than to an innate sex-difference (Bandura, Ross,

& Ross, 1962; Feshbach, 1970; Zahn-Waxler, lannotti, &

Chapman, 1982).

The inconsistency in reported sex-differences may

be due to the fact that much of the research on social

adjustment has been conducted using only male subjects

(Coie & Kupersmidt, 1983; Dodge, Schlundt, Schocken, &

Delugach, 1983; Milich & Landau, 1984; Olweus, 1979) and

can be considered to be inconclusive regarding

sex-differences (LaGreca & Stark, 1986; Michelson et

al., 1981). Research conducted using both sexes has

typically not yielded significant sex differences

(Campbell, Gluck, Lamperski, Romano, & Schultz, 1979;

Cullinan, Epstein, & Kauffman, 1984; Gibbs, Arnold, &

Burkhardt, 1984; Pellegrini, 1985; Selman, 1975;

Serafica, 1982; Shantz, 1983; Walker, 1984).

The only significant sex-differences were found in

children's concepts of friendship, where girls are more

likely to differentiate between best friendships and

regular friendships (Berndt, 1983; Gamer, 1977; Rose &

Serafica, 1979; Serafica, 1982). Girls also tend to

have more exclusive friendships consisting of one or two

other girls (Berndt, 1983; Berndt & Hoyle, 1981; Eder &

Hallinan, 1978; Savin-Williams, 1980; Waldrop & Halver-

son, 1975). Boys develop friends with other boys their

own age more frequently and with less depth than girls

(Berndt, 1983; Douvan & Adelson, 1966). Boys are also

quicker to accept outsiders of their own sex into their

activities (Feshbach, 1969; Feshbach & Sones, 1971).

Girls, however, are more likely to share equally with

all classmates whereas boys are prone to share less

(Berndt, 1983).

Berndt (1983) among others, suggested that this

difference in sharing may be due to a feeling of com-

petition among boys (Ahlgren & Johnson, 1979; Foot,


Chapman, & Smith, 1977; Newcomb, Brady, & Hartup, 1979;

Oskamp & Perlman, 1966; Straub & Noerenberg, 1981).

Competitive behaviors among boys, however, has been

credited by some researchers to societal pressures for

males to be more aggressive than females rather than a

sex-difference (Bandura, Ross, & Ross, 1962; Feshbach,

1970; Zahn-Waxler et al., 1982). Aggression among both

sexes has been considered socially inappropriate

(Bandura et al., 1962).

Assertiveness and Social Adjustment

Social skills training programs have attempted to

turn aggressive behavior in both girls and boys into

more socially accepted assertive behaviors (Hops, 1983;

Ladd, 1979; LeCroy, 1983; Michelson et al., 1983).

Assertiveness has been suggested by some researchers as

an example of prosocial behavior and proper social

adjustment (Bower, Amatea, & Anderson, 1976; Conger &

Keane, 1981; Michelson et al., 1983; Payne, Halpin,

Ellett, & Dale, 1974; Tolor, Kelly, & Stebbins, 1976)

because it allows for the expression of feelings in

socially appropriate manners (Alberti & Emmons, 1982;

Wolpe & Lazarus, 1966).

Several studies concluded that individuals who are

considered assertive display less social anxiety than

those who are seen as passive (Asher, 1982; Horvath,

1984; Kazdin, 1975; Wampler & Amira, 1980). It has been

suggested by some researchers that the less anxiety a

person feels the more competent he or she is in social

situations (Norton-Ford & Norton-Ford, 1979; Paterson,

Dickson, Layne, & Anderson, 1984; Rotheram, 1987; Waks-

man & Messmer, 1979). Passive children are seen as more

withdrawn and eliciting fewer positive social responses

than assertive children (Greenwood, Walker, Todd, &

Hops, 1977, 1979; Hartup, Glazer, & Charlesworth, 1967;

Michelson et al., 1983; Rubin, 1985).

A lack of social assertiveness in children has also

been linked to feelings of inadequacy, incompetence, and

depression (Michelson et al., 1983; Michelson & Mann-

arino, 1986). Some researchers have demonstrated that

non-assertive children often withdraw from social sit-

uations due to a higher level of anxiety. Due to this

phenomenon, they eventually suffer from varying degrees

of childhood, and later adult, psychopathology (Cowen,

Pederson, Babigian, Izzo, & Trost, 1973; Kagan & Moss,

1962; Kohn, 1977; Michelson et al., 1983).

Assertiveness within children has been suggested by

some researchers to be a positive social attribute

because it allows children to develop higher levels of

competence and confidence (Norton-Ford & Norton-Ford,

1979; Payne et al., 1974; Rotheram, 1987; Waksman &

Messmer, 1979; Wojnilower & Gross, 1984, 1988). Child-

ren who are perceived as being assertive rather than

passive or aggressive, are chosen more frequently as

friends or are rated as more popular in sociometric

studies (Asher, 1982; Horvath, 1984; Paterson et al.,

1984; Waldrop & Halverson, 1975; Wojnilower & Gross,

1984, 1988). Assertive children also have been shown to

have more positive self-concepts which often affects

interpersonal relationships (Craig, 1983; Crandall,

1988; Horvath, 1984; McCandless, 1967; Mussen et al.,

1974; Rotheram, 1987; Tolor et al., 1976; Waksman,


Self-concept and Social Adjustment

A positive self-esteem or self-concept plays an

important role in the social behaviors of middle-child-

hood children, because it describes their perceptions of

themselves and their relationship to others (Cooper-

smith, 1967; Elliot, 1984; Piers & Harris, 1969;

Shavelson, Hubner, & Stanton, 1976; Wells & Marwell,

1976). Children with low self-esteem have been observed

to withdraw from social situations whereas those with

higher self-esteem become active within the social

environment surrounding them (Coopersmith, 1967; DeMan &

Devisse, 1987; Gergen, 1971; Rosenberg, 1965).

McIntire and Drummond (1977) discovered that child-

ren with a low self-concept

tend to get emotional when frustrated, are easily
perturbed, tend to give up early, and are change-
able in attitude and interests. In addition to the
emotional aspects, some tend to be evasive of

responsibilities, obstructive, and wrapped up in
themselves. (McIntire & Drummond, 1977, p. 296)

Some of the tendencies enumerated by McIntire and Drum-

mond have been cited as reasons for low popularity,

higher levels of social anxiety, and exclusion by others

(Craig, 1983; LaGreca & Stark, 1986; Michelson et al.,

1983; Stein & Friedrich, 1975; Staub, 1979). The more

children sense failure in social situations, the lower

their self-esteem becomes. The lower their self-esteem

becomes, the less success they experience in social

settings (Glidewell, Kantor, Smith, & Stringer, 1976;

Sobol & Earn, 1985). As Craig (1983) stated, "Personal

successes or failures in different social situations can

lead children to see themselves as leaders, loners, or

criminals, as well-adjusted or maladjusted" (p. 341).

Children with high self-concepts tend to become

active in both formal and informal social situations

(Coopersmith, 1967; Rosenberg, 1965). Coopersmith

(1967) also reported that children with high self-con-

cepts are "happier and more effective in meeting en-

vironmental demands than are persons with low self-

esteem" (p. 19). Galluzzi and Zucker (1977) discovered

that a high self-concept is a high predictor of appro-

priate personality adjustment.

McCandless (1967), described the relationship

between the self-concept and social adjustment when he


The maladjusted, self rejecting person, if he also
rejects others, is likely to be rejected by them in
turn, with resulting exacerbation of his maladjust-
ment. If in counseling, the self-concept can be
improved and if this improvement results in in-
creased acceptance of and by other people, then a
spiraling effect of "cure" or personal improvement
will result. (McCandless, 1967, p. 283)

He further described self-accepting children as being

less cynical about life in general, viewing the world as

a friendlier place than those who have lower self-con-

cepts. Therefore, he stated, "self acceptance .

seems associated with accepting other people" (p. 283).

Pellegrini (1985) explained that the way one reasons

about or accepts other people is a major determinant of

his or her social behavior and adjustment.

Children's self-concepts have also been considered

an important measure of social adjustment because they

remain considerably constant over time and are usually

resistant to modification (Brownfain, 1952; Coopersmith,

1967; Mirels & McPeek, 1977; Marotz, 1983; Piers, 1985;

Piers & Harris, 1969). Although the self-concept has

been reported to remain fairly constant over a person's

life span (Ketcham & Snyder, 1977; Taylor, 1986; Wylie,

1974b), some researchers have found an indication that

there is a period of lowered self-concept between the

first and fifth grades in school (Gerken, Allen, &

Snider, 1980; Taylor, 1986). Wylie (1961, 1974a), how-

ever, in his research on self-concept concluded that the

majority of studies show no significant relationship

between age and self-concept.

A few researchers have suggested that the self-

concept may be a significant variable affecting social

interactions among children from families with different

socio-economic status. It has also been suggested that

a child's socioeconomic status might directly affect his

or her social adjustment (Levine, Mendez-Caratini, &

Snyder, 1982; Ruble 1983; Schwarzer, Jerusalem, & Lange,


Socioeconomic Status and Social Adjustment

Taylor (1986) noted that research on the effect of

socioeconomic status on children's social adjustment has

yielded conflicting conclusions. Some research indi-

cates that there may be a direct relationship between

how people view their social status and how they per-

ceive themselves socially. In other words, children

from lower socioeconomic backgrounds have lower self-

concepts than those of middle or upper socioeconomic

status (Oigbokie, 1983; Richman, Clarke, & Brown, 1984;

Scott-Jones & Clark, 1986; Wylie, 1974b).

McPherson and Rust (1987) in an analysis of 79

second grade students, discovered that children from a

high socioeconomic status background were considered by

their peers to be more popular. They further stated


that unpopularity correlated significantly with reading

ability, self-concept, and social status.

Other researchers concluded that there is an in-

verse relationship between socioeconomic status and how

children perceive themselves. In these studies, child-

ren from lower income and social environments had higher

measured self-concepts than their age-mates in the

higher economic strata (Smith, Zingale, & Coleman, 1978;

Soares & Soares, 1970).

Nevertheless, a majority of the studies revealed no

significant differences in self-perception across socio-

economic levels (Atolagbe, 1975; Coopersmith, 1967;

Healey, 1969; Healey & Deblassie, 1974; Rosenberg, 1965;

Wylie, 1974a). The results reported in some studies

indicate that the differences which do exist may be due

to adult perceptions and interactions rather than to an

actual phenomena (McKenzie, 1986; Miller, 1986; Parks &

Smeriglo, 1986; Quay & Jarrett, 1986). The fact that

the results of relevant studies on the effects of socio-

economic status upon a person's social adjustment are

inconclusive makes it important to control for this

variable in any research conducted involving social

adjustment (Scott-Jones & Clark, 1986).

Most of the research which was reviewed focused the

impact of a child's status on peer acceptance in the

formal school setting. One of the original thrusts of

formal schooling was to cut across socioeconomic bound-

aries and socialize all children for the good of the

nation (Cremin, 1951, 1977; King, 1986; Nolte, 1982;

Rothstein, 1986; Spring, 1982, 1986; Tyack, 1967).

Schooling experience, therefore, has become the primary

source of social adjustment in America.

Schooling Experience and Social Adjustment

Vallance (1973) stated that with an increasing

population schools became "an active socializing agent

to guarantee stability in the face of the growing diver-

sity of the populace" (p. 12). To socialize the popu-

lace, it becomes important for children to learn a

standardized set of socially appropriate norms. It has

been said ". schooling helps pupils to learn what

the norms are, to accept those norms, and to act accor-

ding to them" (Dreeben, 1968, p. 46). Until children

reach the traditional age for entrance into school, the

rules needed for adequate social adjustment are modeled

by their parents (Chandras, 1991; Craig, 1983; Mussen et

al., 1974). Schools, therefore, become an extension of

a child's family, occupying almost half of his or her

waking hours (Craig, 1983; Mussen et al., 1974; Schell,

1975). Mussen and his associates (1974) expressed:

As one of the principal socializing agents of our
society, the school should be in a uniquely favor-
able position to supplement, and sometimes to com-
pensate for, parental training. By teaching the
child academic skills, and by giving him
supervised practice in social relationships both


with adults and a wider range of peers, the school
should make him better able to deal comfortably
with the ever-widening range of challenges and
opportunities, as well as problems, that lie ahead
of him on the road toward psychological maturity.
(Mussen et al., 1974, p. 488)

Some researchers have expressed a belief that

formal schooling provides the best opportunity for

adequate social adjustment because it forces group

interaction (Crockenberg & Bryant, 1978; Franzosa, 1984;

Hartup, 1977, 1979; Johnson, 1981; Ladd, 1979; LeCrory,

1983; Murphy, 1991; Mussen et al., 1974; Strain, Cooke,

& Apolloni, 1976). The basis for their conclusions was

the belief that the formal group interaction required in

schools provided for the development of individual,

interpersonal, and social adequacies through regular

peer contact (Adams, Shea, & Kacerguis, 1978; "Educators

say," 1989; Greenberger & Sorensen, 1974; Murphy, 1991).

Morris (1961) stated it clearly:

Since the basic epistemology of scientific logic
depends so much on the sharing of findings, all
learning founded on that logic must become
thoroughly social in character. Progressivist
schools, therefore, are places where boys and girls
work together more than they work alone. (p. 363)

Researchers into the effects of a lack of peer

contact have demonstrated that poor social interactions

often lead to mental illness, alienation, juvenile

delinquency, and other problems for society (Hartup,

1977; Ladd, 1979; LeCroy, 1983; Roff & Sells, 1968).

Partly because of a need to guarantee adequate social

skills development and thus avoid problems for society,

all states passed compulsory attendance laws by 1918

(Cremin, 1951, 1977; Ovard, 1978; Rothstein, 1986;

Spring, 1986; Tyack, 1967). Since that time, the aver-

age number of years a child experiences schooling has

gradually increased from a low of eight in 1918 to over

fourteen years by 1980 (Cremin, 1988; McCurdy, 1985;

Moore, 1984).

A proliferation of literature focusing on school

based social skills programs offers further evidence

that many researchers, parents, and educators view

formal schooling as the best location for adequate

social adjustment (Borstein et al., 1977; Bower et al.,

1976; Crandall, 1988; Glidewell et al., 1976; Gray &

Tindell, 1978; Gresham & Elliott, 1984; LeCroy, 1983;

Michelson & Mannarino, 1986; Michelson et al., 1981;

Murphy, 1991). Much of this literature emphasized the

role of peers as models of social behavior (Adams, Shea,

& Kacerguis, 1978; Gray & Tindell, 1978; Hallinan, 1976;

Hamburg & Varenhorst, 1972; Murphy, 1991; Myrick, 1987;

Schmuck, 1978; Strain et al., 1976).

Other researchers have expressed a deepening belief

that formal educational systems are failing to provide

adequate social adjustment for children (Holt, 1982;

Illich, 1971; Moore, 1984; Moore & Moore, 1986; Roth-

stein, 1986; Rubin, 1985; Slater & Slater, 1990; Waller,

1961, 1962; Wynne, 1979). Although most agreed that

positive peer relationships enhance social development,

they also believed that the very nature of formal

schooling prohibits, rather than promotes, peer interac-

tion due to the need to keep order within the classroom

(Coleman, 1979; Holt, 1982; Johnson, 1981; Kozol, 1967;

Monfils, 1991; Rothstein, 1986; Silberman, 1970; Waller,


Many researchers have also questioned the actual

value of peer interactions in the process of developing

socially appropriate behaviors (Bronfenbrenner, 1970;

Gorder, 1985; Moore, 1982, 1987; Moore & Moore, 1986;

Slater & Slater, 1990; Smith, 1986). They stated that

constant peer interaction often generates peer depen-

dency that restricts the development of a positive self-

concept and creates aggressive rather than assertive

attitudes. John Holt (1981) expressed his results when

he wrote:

When I point out to people that the social life of
most schools and classrooms is mean-spirited, stat-
us-oriented, competitive, and snobbish, I am always
astonished by their response. Not one person of
the hundreds with whom I've discuss~ this has yet
said to me that the social life at school is
kindly, generous, supporting, democratic, friendly,
loving, or good for children. (p. 49, italics in

Additionally, some researchers found evidence that

formal schooling promotes an unrealistic view of society

(Johnson, 1985). Wynne (1979) stated a concern that

children, forced into loose relationships with other

children of like backgrounds and abilities, form little

commitment to the diverse society as a whole. Norton

(1970) expressed a concern that schooling reinforces

dependency rather than independence. Lamm (1976) be-

lieved that this unrealistic view of society creates a

conflict within schooling itself when he stated:

Socialization is, on the one hand, essentially a
technique for adapting young people to existing
social conditions. On the other hand, social con-
ditions may demand innovative rather than
conformist behavior. But the school, guided by the
idea of socialization, cannot at the same time
promote the adaption of its pupils to existing
society and their willingness to accept or effect
social change the school cannot maintain a
system of instruction that simultaneously promotes
both creativity and conformity, both open- and
closemindedness. (Lamm, 1976, p. 117)

Many parents have voiced a conviction that the

burden of socializing their children belongs to them and

not the formal educational systems (Gorder, 1985; Home

education, 1986; Kink, 1983; "Parents like to include",

1990: Slater & Slater, 1990; Smith, 1986; Wilson, 1988).

To them, the needed peer involvement and social inter-

action can be provided through positive activities such

as church, scouting, YMCA, and appropriate adult role

models (Holt, 1981, 1983a, 1983b; Kendall, 1982; Lines,

1987; Olson, 1990; Wilson, 1988). Due to their concerns

that formal schooling is failing to provide adequate and

appropriate social training as well as a belief that

public education in general is deteriorating, some

parents look for other alternatives for their children's

schooling experience (Gustavsen, 1981; Naisbitt; 1982;

Seuffert, 1990; Sipher, 1978; Tobak & Zirkel, 1983;

Whitehead & Bird, 1984). Currently there are two major

sources of schooling experience, the traditional formal

school and home schools. In the next section, each of

these alternatives will be discussed in the context of

social adjustment.

Comparative Literature on Schooling Alternatives

The Public School Movement

Society has consistently demanded that its citizens

display appropriate social behaviors (Pratte, 1973).

Teaching appropriate behavior and guiding children

toward developing positive social skills was originally

considered part of the religious duty of all parents

(Cremin, 1951, 1970; Cubberly, 1934; Demos, 1970).

The Massachusetts Bay Colony was so concerned that

parents might not live up to this responsibility that

they passed a statute in 1647 known as the "Old Deluder

Satan Law." This law required that every township of

fifty families appoint one person to teach all the

children within that township (Cremin, 1970; Spring,

1986; Tyack, 1967). It further required that once the

township grew to over 100 families, "they shall set up a

grammar school, the master thereof being able to in-

struct youth so far as they may be fitted for the

university" (Tyack, 1967, p. 16). This law, which per-

mitted parents to delegate some of the responsibility

for educating and socializing their children to the

government, became the forerunner of current day compul-

sory attendance laws (Katz, 1976, 1977).

As the population of the Colonies grew, concerns

over social development also grew, and more of the

social functions of the family were shared with

religious organizations, formal schools, and other com-

munity agencies (Cremin, 1980). Cremin (1980) suggested

that the shared responsibility for the social develop-

ment of children coincided with other social changes in

the early national period of America. For example, the

size of the average family was declining rapidly as the

tendency for households to include two or more nuclear

families or additional kin decreased. Because family

size was decreasing, more of the work was shifting from

the home to the shop, factory, and market. It was this

shift that Cremin stated

dramatically altered the character of apprentice-
ships and the educative role of parents vis-a-vis
those of other adults. The shift occurred first in
the cities and the factory towns of the East, but
it augured changes that became increasingly wide-
spread during the later years of the century.
(Cremin, 1980, pp. 371-72)

The household changed from being the center of all

social development to one that shared that responsi-

bility with others.

People began to see formal schools as a viable

alternative to the family for socializing children.

Parents demonstrated little concern over allowing other

mothers to teach their children how to read, write and

behave in what came to be called "Dame schools" (Spring,


Many families also viewed schools as a convenient

way in which large settlements of immigrants could be

introduced into the American culture (Cremin, 1951).

The need to guarantee that the immigrants developed the

same social manners as the rest of society became so

great that several colonies suggested the use of formal

schools to force immigrants and Americans together. One

such proposal came from Benjamin Franklin who proposed

the establishment of charity schools (Cremin, 1970).

Charity schools were religious institutions established

to educate poor German children in the provinces. Re-

quests for money to support these charity schools reach-

ed London in 1753 where William Smith proclaimed:

By a common education of English and German youth
at the same schools, acquaintances and connections
will be formed, and deeply impressed upon them in
their cheerful and open moments. The English lan-
guage and a conformity of manners will be acquired.
(Cremin, 1970, p. 261)

Although these early charity schools failed, they helped

establish the concept that social adjustment could best

be accomplished through group interaction. It is this

belief that is the basis for using formal education as a

means to develop appropriate social skills in the Amer-

ican system, a goal seen as necessary and acceptable to

most communities (Cremin, 1970; Tyack, 1974).

Several prominent people of the late eighteenth

century stressed the need for government control of

education in order to protect American society by

providing uniform socialization. One of the first to

argue for the superiority of the formal school over the

family was Benjamin Rush. Writing in the late 1700s,

Rush claimed that formal schools had to assume the roles

held by what he saw as a collapsing family. He stated,

"Society owes a great deal of its order and happiness to

the deficiencies of parental government being supplied

by those habits of obedience and subordination which are

contracted at schools" (Rush, 1965, p. 16). To some,

formal education would have to maintain the balance

between order and freedom by producing virtuous, well-

behaved citizens (Kaestle, 1983; Spring, 1986).

After the American Revolution, several factors

contributed to the rise of formal education as a govern-

ment function, rather than one reserved for the family.

Cremin (1951) listed three important demands that led to

the creation of the common schools during the mid 1800s.

The first was the demands of a republican government

which "argued that if there was to be universal exercise

of the rights of suffrage and citizenship, all of


society would have to be educated to this task" (Cremin,

1951, p. 29). The new American government formed by the

Constitution did not provide for a national education

system. It was obvious however, that some form of

systematic and organized education was on the minds of

the founding fathers when James Madison asserted

A popular Government, without popular information,
or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to
a Farce or a Tragedy; or perhaps both. Knowledge
will forever govern ignorance: And a people who
mean to be their own governors, must arm themselves
with the power which knowledge gives. (In Cremin,
1951, p. 30)

The second factor cited by Cremin (1951) was the

demand for equality. Thousands of families had migrated

to industrialized urban areas. As labor groups formed,

they were "fearful of the political and social conse-

quences of the new industry and commerce, and mindful of

the gaps between principle and reality in the democratic

ethic" (p. 33). Therefore, they waged a campaign for an

educated citizenry that would guarantee that all child-

ren could be socially equal.

Newly enfranchised workers recognized that the only

way to guarantee that the United States did not break

apart into rigid social classes would be for all

children to be educated together in equal environments,

a task impossible as long as individual families con-

trolled the educational process. Cremin (1951) quotes

Robert Dale Owen, an early labor leader who stated

I believe in a National System of Equal, Republi-
can, Protective, Practical Education, the sole
regenerator of a profligate age, and the only re-
deemer of our suffering country from the equal
curses of chilling poverty and corrupting riches,
of gnawing want and destroying debauchery, of blind
ignorance and of unprincipled intrigue. (Cremin,
1951, p. 33)

Labor groups believed so strongly in the need for

free public education to socialize their children that

they pressed their state legislatures to appropriate

funds to implement "Free, Equal, and Republican" schools

(Cremin, 1951, p. 33). This pressure became a deciding

factor in the creation and institution of the American

free public school systems (Tyack, 1967).

Cremin (1951) listed the demand for American

Nationality as the third factor which led to the for-

mation of common schools. He described the 1830s as

being filled with concern that the American republic

might be weakened by the incompatibility of non-English

speaking people. The common school, just as the charity

schools of the eighteenth century, had the task of

"inculcation of those values vital to adequate partici-

pation in the American community" (p. 45). The demands

and concerns for a strong American society were so great

that few of the electorate resisted the belief that

public schools should provide universal socialization

for good citizenship. The governments of each state

took a stance that they could no longer leave this

responsibility in the hands of families, religious

organizations, or local communities (Cremin, 1951;


Public schooling remained a voluntary and inci-

dental process, however, until the twentieth century

(Spring, 1986). Attendance varied enormously from day

to day and from season to season (Tyack, 1974). The

family continued to control the educational process by

selecting how often and which of their children would

attend school. In spite of parental control, formal

education continued to provide an attractive alternative

to home education, so that by the late nineteenth cen-

tury, the typical young American could expect to receive

five years of formal education (Cremin, 1951, 1970;

Spring, 1986; Tyack, 1974).

Public education became a training process in

consonance with an idealized family. It was a form of

preventive socialization in which children could be

trained for a more complex society. Immigrants and the

newly urbanized American family were convinced that the

good of all society could only be guaranteed by regular

social interaction provided in public schools (Spring,

1982; Tyack, 1967).

Tyack (1974) stated that American families in

making schools available, in sending their children to

those schools without governmental compulsion, and in

underwriting the schools with their own money, were

demonstrating their faith in the ability of formal

schools to teach the social skills necessary for sur-

vival. Quoting reformers of the late nineteenth cen-

tury, Tyack further clarified the drive for compulsory

attendance laws that would remove the control of educa-

tion and socialization from the family. Many advocates

of compulsory schooling referred to stories of neglected

children who learned their social skills from the

streets. These advocates cited disobedience to parents,

obscenity, lewdness, thievery, and even murder as exam-

ples of what they claimed was a break down of family

discipline. Some parents were deemed as unfit guardians

of their children. The only remedy would be "stringent

legislation, thoroughly carried out by an efficient

police" (Tyack, 1974, p. 68) that would force these

children into school.

Many attempts were made during the last of the

nineteenth century to make public education compulsory.

Ironically a primary source of the drive for mandatory

schooling came from parents who deemed formal education

an important part of their children's socialization. So

many parents demanded that their children be accepted in

schools that thousands were turned away in San Fran-

cisco, New York and Philadelphia (Tyack, 1974). Hist-

orian Elwood Cubberley (1934) declared that "each year

the child is coming to belong more and more to the

state, and less and less to the parent" (p. 34).

Gradually school accommodations began to catch up

with demand and states began to view compulsory atten-

dance as an achievable goal (Tyack, 1974). By 1918 all

states had passed some form of compulsory attendance

laws that placed the state in full control of the

socialization process (Cremin, 1977, 1988; Ovard, 1978).

To assist children in their social development, public

schools have often made use of trained counselors. In

1907 Jesse B. Davis, a principal of the Grand Rapids,

Michigan, High School required that a weekly period in

English composition be devoted to "vocational and moral

guidance" (Mathewson, 1962, p. 72). Since that time

formal guidance and counseling programs have grown and

been integrated into the social adjustment process of

nearly every public school (Aubrey, 1982; Bernard &

Fulmer, 1977; Lee & Pallone, 1966; Myrick, 1987;

Shertzer & Stone, 1966; Traxler, 1957). School coun-

selors assisted children in making vocational and

academic decisions. Through the years school counselors

have gained increasing understanding and experience in

human development (Muro & Dinkmeyer, 1977; Myrick, 1987;

Simonis, 1973).

With the incorporation of school counselors into

the academic process, it was believed that all facets of

a child's social development could be adequately ad-

dressed through formal public schooling (Ryan, 1978).

As their roles expanded, school counselors were relied

upon to intervene in crisis situations, help individuals

remediate social weaknesses, and assist in social devel-

opment through preventative developmental counseling

(Bernard & Fulmer, 1977; Muro & Dinkmeyer, 1977; Myrick,

1987; Simonis, 1973). Ryan (1978) defined the role of

school counseling:

In any setting the guidance program supports the
mission of pupil-student services by assisting each
individual to become a fully functioning person,
capable of maintaining healthy social relation-
ships, performing as a responsible citizen of the
community, being a part of the larger society, and
contributing to that society. (p. 11)

Formal public schooling was able to provide more ser-

vices and at a greater efficiency than could the family

(Cremin, 1977, 1988).

The prevalent view that formal education was super-

ior to the home as a source of social development was

demonstrated by the rapid increase in the school en-

rollment from a low of 10 percent of the child popula-

tion in the late nineteenth century, to over 91 percent

by the 1950s (Moore, 1985b). Since the 1950s, however,

public school attendance has been on the decline due to

parental concerns over a lack of moral control, peer

influence, and lowered academic quality (Lines, 1982;

Moore, 1985b; Naisbitt, 1982; Ornstein, 1989; "Parents

like," 1990).

Roger Sipher (1978) described conditions in the

public schools during the 1950s that created the con-

cerns that were expressed by many parents. He described

over crowded classrooms filled with post war "baby

boomers." Many school systems were not ready for the

increase in the student population and resorted to the

use of poorly trained teachers, cramped classrooms, and

outdated materials.

In 1983, the National Commission on Excellence in

Education issued its report entitled A Nation at Risk in

which they described the state of mediocrity of American

schools. Kenneth Fish (1970) described conditions simi-

lar to a war zone that required that some schools be

closed. Erickson et al. (1972) disclosed that the

social conditions in the schools they observed were so

bad that quality education was impossible. Others have

expressed similar concerns well into the 1990s (Algoz-

zine, 1991; Frady & Dunphy, 1985; Helpl Teacher can't

teach, 1980; Kirst, 1984; Tomorrow, 1982).

A deepening concern that formal schools were not

accomplishing the task of helping their children achieve

social adjustment led many parents to seek other alter-

natives. One alternative was to educate their children


The Home School Movement

Some parents express a concern that they, not

organized institutions, are better suited to teach their

children the moral, social and character attributes

necessary for a successful life (Gustavsen, 1981;

"Parents like," 1990; Slater & Slater, 1990). These

parents choose to break with modern tradition and

educate their children at home (Naisbitt, 1982; Tobak,

1983; Whitehead & Bird, 1984).

Home schooling, or home centered education as it is

sometimes described (Whitehead & Bird, 1984), had its

origin in the earliest stages of human existence when

Moses delivered the Law of God to the Israelites

commanding them to

teach them diligently unto your children, and talk
of them when you sit in your houses, and when you
walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when
you rise up at dawn. (Deuteronomy, 6:7)

In the Biblical tradition, the basis and model for

learning and social skills development was left in the

hands of the parents (Ephesians, 6:4). The Ordinances

delivered by Moses, and commanded to be taught by the

parents, included all of the information needed for

human survival (Gustavsen, 1981).

The primary source of knowledge during the early

American Colonial period continued to be the family

(Cremin, 1970; Spring, 1986). As political upheaval

threatened domestic tranquility in Europe, it forced

many to flee to the American continent in search of a

new beginning. As they came, early colonial families

brought with them the traditions and directives that had

been established in Europe. Among those were Royal

Injunctions that dated back to Henry VIII charging

parsons to

admonish the fathers and mothers, masters and gov-
ernors of youth, being under their care, to teach,
or cause to be taught, their children and servants,
even from their infancy, their Pater Noster, the
Articles of our Faith, and the Ten Commandments, in
their mother tongue: and the same so taught, shall
cause the said youth to repeat and understand. (In
Cremin, 1970, p. 120)

King Henry's Injunction further directed fathers and

mothers to

bestow their children and servants, even from their
childhood, either to learning, or to some other
honest exercise, occupation or husbandry: exhor-
ting, counseling, and by all the ways and means
they may, lest any time afterward they be
driven, for lack of some mystery or occupation to
live by, to fall to begging, stealing, or some
other unthriftiness where if they had been
well educated and brought up in some good litera-
ture, occupation, or mystery, they should, being
rulers of their own family, have profited, as well
themselves as divers other persons, to the great
commodity and ornament of the commonwealth. (In
Cremin, 1970, p. 120-121)

Although Colonial America was vastly different from

their European heritage, many families continued to

maintain their Protestant religious beliefs and thereby

ensure social stability (Spring, 1986). The family

became the focal point of everything that was deemed

important for social development and survival. It was a

business, a school, a vocational institution, a church,

and a welfare center supplying the needs of their own

and other families (Demos, 1970).

As more people fled the political upheavals in

Europe and came to the New World they were faced with a

greater responsibility to provide for the social devel-

opment of their children at home than before they left

the metropolitan areas of the Old World. There was less

access to churches, colleges and other institutions that

might have shared the task (Cremin, 1970). In spite of

this emphasis, a concern that parents might not fulfill

their divinely appointed responsibility led the Mas-

sachusetts Bay Colony to implement a law in 1642 em-

powering the selectmen of each town

to take account from time to time of all parents
and masters, and of their children, concerning
their calling and employment of their children,
especially of their ability to read and understand
the principles of religion and the capital laws of
this country. (In Tyack, 1967, pp. 14-15)

The Royal Injunctions of Henry VIII were slowly being

placed into the hands of the Colonial governments (Cre-

min, 1970).

The context of the Massachusetts law of 1642 sug-

gested that education by parents was not only for the

preservation of religious beliefs, but also the preser-

vation of social order and continuation of the skills

and trades necessary for the survival of the community

(Spring, 1986). The family was the earliest source of


information for youth concerning the real world and how

individuals ought to behave. It provided the examples

children needed in order to learn the skills and jobs

necessary for society's survival (Cremin, 1977). As

Cremin (1977) stated, "the pedagogy of household educa-

tion was the pedagogy of apprenticeship, that is, a

relentless round of imitation, explanation, and trial

and error" (p. 12).

Until the late 1800s, parents were entrusted with

complete control of what and how their children learned

(Gordon, 1983; Katz, 1977; Moore, 1985a; Nolte, 1982;

Whitehead & Bird, 1984). This early form of socializing

children at home rather than in a formal educational

setting, although not always adhered to by some fam-

ilies, assured that a child was able to read and write,

understand the local laws of the land, behave in social-

ly accepted ways, and become skilled at a vocation or

trade (Cremin, 1970). It was so successful that John

Adams observed in 1765 that "a native of America,

especially of New England, who cannot read and write is

a rare a phenomenon as a Comet" (Butterfield, 1961).

As the population of the Colonies grew, more of the

educative functions of the family were shared with

religious organizations, formal schools and other com-

munity agencies (Cremin, 1980). In the more scarcely

populated areas of the frontier, however, parents


continued the socialization process much as it had been

introduced (Cremin 1951, 1970; Spring, 1986).

Several factors marked the decline of home centered

education and an increase in the demand for free public

schools in America. As was presented in the previous

discussion of the formal school movement in this chap-

ter, the American family was beginning to shrink in

number, making it easier for parents to combine training

efforts with other parents or institutions (Cremin,

1980). Cremin (1980) also stated that the family was

more mobile than ever before, illustrated by the fact

that by 1850, roughly a fifth of the original population

were residing in states other than where they had been

born. This mobility, the changing size of the family,

and the shift of work from the home to the community

gave rise to new institutions to protect and guarantee

social order in America. Cremin (1980) stated:

Paralleling the contrapuntal influences acting upon
the household itself was the proliferation of new
institutions to assume functions formerly carried
on by the household, with a heightened con-
cern for finding institutional means for maintain-
ing social order. But what was significant about
these institutions was the extent to which they
were explicitly seen, on the one hand, surrogates
for families and, on the other hand, as com-
plements to families in the building and mainten-
ance of the virtuous society. (p. 373)

Parents viewed social survival in the early Amer-

ican period as a cooperative effort of many families.

For that reason, they felt little concern over


entrusting the social development of their children to

neighbors or the local minister and his wife (Butts &

Cremin, 1953; Cubberly, 1934; Spring, 1986).

American families were also afraid of losing con-

trol of their culture to the large numbers of immigrants

that were establishing settlements throughout the ter-

ritories (Cremin, 1951; Tyack, 1974). It was generally

believed that combined formal schooling would be the

best method to socialize the immigrants into the Ameri-

can culture (Butts & Cremin, 1954; Cremin, 1951, 1970;

Spring, 1986; Tyack, 1974).

Home education among the immigrants was considered

by some a subversive activity that had to be counter-

acted by the free public school. This became especially

clear in the ever present need to promote Protestant

Christianity among the many Catholic newcomers. George

Cheever, a conservative nativist, illustrated this

belief when he said,

If the Bible be read in them (free public schools),
its daily lessons cannot but be attended by the
Divine blessing, and in many instances may beget
such a reverence for the Word of God, and instil
such a knowledge of its teachings, that the
infidelity of their home education shall be effec-
tually counteracted. (In Cremin, 1951, p. 47)

Many Americans in the late eighteenth century were

concerned that the family was collapsing and would no

longer be able to provide adequate social example (Kae-

stle, 1983; Rush, 1965; Spring, 1986). In order to

guarantee universal social skills for the good of all

society, more parents consented to send their children

to formal organized schools rather than educate them at

home (Cremin, 1951, 1970; Spring 1982; Tyack, 1967).

Tyack (1974) stated that American families in making

schools available, in sending their children to those

schools without government compulsion, and in underwrit-

ing the schools with their own money, demonstrated their

faith in the ability of formal schools to teach the

social skills necessary for living.

As the industrial revolution grew and spread

throughout America, states began to implement laws aimed

at protecting children from becoming forced labor.

Because most parents in the urban areas no longer worked

at home, it was also more expedient for them to rely

upon formal schooling to teach their children the neces-

sary social skills (Cremin, 1970, 1977; Nolte, 1982;

Spring 1982, 1986). By 1918, the free public school

became the primary source of social instruction (Cremin,

1951; Ovard, 1978; Rothstein, 1986; Tyack, 1967). With

the exception of deep rural and isolated territories,

the home school nearly disappeared (Arons, 1981).

Interest in home schooling began to revive during

the early twentieth century. In the period after World

War II when school populations surged with "baby

boomers," the quality of academic education came under

close scrutiny (Sipher, 1978). Parents were concerned

that in the interest of keeping order and maintaining

attendance, their children were no longer being ade-

quately taught (Holt, 1969; Seuffert, 1990; Slater &

Slater, 1990). Holt (1969) expressed this concern when

he claimed,

It is no more possible to have open, friendly, and
mutually helpful relationships between most
teachers and students than it is between prison
guards and prison convicts--and for exactly the
same reasons. If, on the other hand, compulsory
attendance were abolished, the relationship would
be entirely different, for the teacher would not be
a jailer, therefore not an enemy. (p. 74)

Concerns over adequate education and social condi-

tions within public schools were expressed well into the

1980s. In its 1983 report, A Nation at Risk, the

National Commission on Excellence in Education painted a

dim picture of what was happening in American class-

rooms. Many reports of declining test scores (Kniker,

1984; Naisbitt, 1982), inability of teachers to com-

petently perform (A Nation at Risk, 1983; Helpl Teacher

can't teach, 1980), and deteriorating moral and social

controls (Erickson et al., 1972; Fish, 1970; Frady &

Dunphy, 1985; Slater & Slater, 1990) led some parents to

distrust organized education and look seriously at home

schooling (Moore, 1985b).

Led by educators, such as the late John Holt and

Raymond Moore, the home school movement is estimated to

be growing at the rate of 100,000 new students per year

(Gothard, 1983). Some have suggested that home school-

ing will continue to grow well into the twenty-first

century (Common & MacMullen, 1987; Moore, 1985b; Nais-

bitt, 1982; Olson, 1990). The actual number of children

schooled at home is not possible to obtain due to fears

many parents have of legal reprisal for violating state

compulsory attendance laws. Current estimates, however,

range upward to over one million children (Lines, 1987,

1991; McCurdy, 1985; Monfils, 1991; Naisbitt, 1982;

Tobak & Zirkel, 1983; Whitehead & Bird, 1984).

Home schools have had to face numerous legal chal-

lenges (Arons, 1986; Staver, 1987; Whitehead & Bird,

1984). The first case of importance was Pierce v.

Society of Sisters (1925). In deciding this case, the

Supreme Court established the right of parents to decide

where their children would be educated, declaring that

children were not the property of the State. The second

major case cited by home school proponents as asserting

parental rights was Farrington v. Toksuhige (1927). By

rendering this decision, the Court affirmed the right of

parents to control what their children were taught, as

long as it was not harmful to society as a whole (Sta-

ver, 1987; Whitehead & Bird, 1984).

Probably the most important case, however, was

Wisconsin v. Yoder (1972). The Court decided in favor

of parental rights to avoid compulsory school attendance

based upon free exercise of religion. Members of the

Old Order Amish faith had been convicted of violating

Wisconsin's compulsory attendance law which required

school attendance until age sixteen. The Amish members

believed that requiring their children to attend school

beyond the eighth grade was a threat to their religion

(Arons, 1986). By deciding in favor of the Amish par-

ents, the Court provided a future defense for home

schools through the use of the First Amendment of the

Constitution when it stated:

A State's interest in universal education, however
highly we rank it, is not totally free from a bal-
ancing process when it impinges on fundamental
rights and interests, such as those specifically
protected by the Free Exercise Clause of the First
Amendment, and the traditional interest of parents
with respect to the religious upbringing of their
children. (Wisconsin v. Yoder, 1972)

Legal battles have not only focused upon parental

rights to educate their children at home, but also on

whether such education provides for adequate social

development. In 1929 the New Hampshire Supreme Court

decided against a home school family in State v. Hoyt.

Quoting from an earlier case involving the need to teach

appropriate citizenship (Fogg v. Board of Education,

1912), the New Hampshire Court stated:

The association with those of all classes of
society, at an early age and upon a common level,
is not unreasonably urged as a preparation for
discharging the duties of a citizen. The object of
our school laws is not only to protect the state
from the consequences of ignorance, but also to

guard against the dangers of "incompetent citizen-
ship." (Cited in Staver, 1987, p. 98)

One of the primary concerns expressed in the Hoyt

decision was that a home school lacked the socialization

element of traditional educational programs (Staver,


Acting on the belief that children could not

receive adequate social instruction apart from group

interactions, two New Jersey cases ruled against home

school parents (Knox v. O'Brian, 1950; Stephens v.

Bongart, 1937). The court in the Stephens case stated:

Education must impart to the child the way to live.
This brings me to the belief that it is al-
most impossible for a child to be adequately taught
in his home. I cannot conceive how a child can
receive in the home instruction and experiences in
group activity and in social outlook in any manner
or form comparable to that provided in the public
school. (Cited in Staver, 1987, p. 51)

This belief that adequate social development can

only take place within organized formal school programs

(Crokenberg & Bryant, 1978; Johnson, 1981) has led some

to suggest that an absence of peer interaction can

create severe consequences, such as juvenile delinquency

or mental health problems (Ladd, 1979; LeCroy, 1983;

McCaul, 1989). Adding further support to this belief,

the West Virginia Supreme Court ruled against home

schooling when it declared that the children were being

separated from organized society and would become

"incapable of coping with life outside of their own

families" (State v. Riddle, 1981).

Although peer relationships have been shown to be a

vital part of the life of all children (Bandura, 1977;

Craig, 1983; Erikson, 1972; Kohlberg, 1969; Mussen et

al., 1974; Piaget, 1952), recent studies have taken a

critical view of peer pressure for its negative effects

on the individual (Bronfenbrenner, 1970; Elmes &

Gemmill, 1990; Frady & Dunphy, 1985; Holt, 1982; Moore,

1982, 1984; Whitehead & Bird, 1984). The possibility

that peer influence can have an impact aversive to that

desired by parents, formed part of the reasoning behind

the Supreme Court's decision in Wisconsin v. Yoder

(1972). In that decision the Court stated:

Formal high school education beyond the eighth
grade places Amish children in an environment
hostile to Amish beliefs with pressure to
conform to the styles, manners, and ways of the
peer group. (Cited in Whitehead & Bird, 1984, p.

In more recent court cases, judges have decided to

follow the precedent established in State v. Massa

(1967) and reject socialization as an argument against

home schooling. One of the most significant cases

reported by home school proponents was Perchemlides v.

Frizzle (1978). In reporting their decision the court


The question here is, of course, not whether the
socialization provided in the school is beneficial
to a child, but rather, who should make that

decision for any particular child. Under our
system, the parents must be allowed to decide
whether public school education, including its
socialization aspects, is desirable or undesirable
for their children. (Perchemlides v. Frizzle,
1978, at 137)

Most home school parents strongly believe that the

peer relationships found in traditional educational

programs are more negative than they are positive

(Adams, 1984; Arons, 1981; Common & MacMullen, 1987;

Divoky, 1983; Holt, 1981, 1982, 1983a; Monfils, 1991;

Moore & Moore, 1986; Slater & Slater, 1990). Positive

social interactions are provided for their children

through church, YMCA, scouting, and home school support

groups (Golowoch, 1991; Gordon, 1983; Gustavsen, 1981;

Holt, 1981, 1983b; Kendall, 1982; Lines, 1987, 1991).

These parents believe that, through parental instruction

and modeling of prosocial behavior, their children

develop more socially appropriate skills than their

agemates in traditional schools (Maarse-Delahooke, 1986;

Moore, 1987; Nagel, 1979; Richoux, 1987; Schemmer, 1985;

Seligman & Zabarsky, 1979; Williams et al., 1984).

Although the home school alternative is growing by

approximately 100,000 new students each year (Gothard,

1983), it has been estimated that between fifty and

seventy-five percent of the families who begin home

schooling will eventually enroll their children in

either public or private religious institutions (Lines,

1987; Williams et al., 1984). In spite of their

concerns for higher quality academics, more religious

freedom, and more control over their children's social

development, financial considerations force many parents

to abandon home schooling. Some parents discontinue

home schooling as part of their original plan to enroll

their children in traditional education after age 8 or 9

(Moore & Moore, 1975). Still others merely burnout from

the pressures of legal hassles, society, and the every-

day routine of teaching (Moore & Moore, 1988). Whether

home school parents are accurate in their beliefs or

not, they will have a profound effect upon schooling as

thousands of their children enter the traditional school

systems (Lines, 1987).

Summary of School Alternatives and Social Adjustment

Formal education has been supported in history,

research, and in legal decisions as being a valid source

of social adjustment for children. To some, the formal

group peer interaction found in schools is the yard

stick by which social adjustment is measured. Problems

within public schools have forced many to move their

children to other sources of social instruction.

Home schooling is one of those alternatives. Home

schools, however, have raised numerous questions that

must be answered. Courts have given parents the privi-

lege to educate their children at home in many states.

Some research has shown that the academic achievement of


home school children is equal to that of their agemates

in the more traditional school programs. Two questions

that remain unanswered in the literature are: Are

children educated at home as socially adjusted as their

agemates from traditional education programs? And, if

home schooled children are not as socially adjusted as

their agemates, what do counselors need to know in order

to assist those children who will eventually enter their


In order to answer these questions, it will be

necessary to assess the social adjustment of children

from home schools. Once the social adjustment of home

schooled children has been determined, it must be

compared to that of children from traditional schools

who society accepts as being socially adjusted.

Assessment of Social Adjustment

Social adjustment, however, is complex and dif-

ficult to measure (Jordan-Davis & Butler, 1985; Gresham

& Elliott, 1984; Rathjen & Foreyt, 1980). Assessment of

social skills has included at least six different meth-

ods including behavior ratings by others, observations,

role play, self-reporting, interviews, and sociometrics

(Asher & Hymel, 1981; Foster & Ritchey, 1979; Green &

Forehand, 1980; Gresham & Elliott, 1984; Hops, 1983).

Gresham and Elliott (1984) suggested that in order

to assess social skills, it is necessary to define

social skills, and then provide a framework for clas-

sifying social skill difficulties. They suggested three

different definitions for social skills. The first,

peer acceptance, relies upon the use of peer socio-

metrics or peer nominations. If children or adolescents

are accepted by their peers, they are considered social-

ly skilled. This definition and approach has been used

in several research studies (Asher & Hymel, 1981; Ladd,


The second definition suggested by Gresham and

Elliott (1984) is behavioral in nature. Social skills

are situation specific, and reinforcement or extinction

is determined by each individual's behavior.

Appropriate behaviors bring reward and reinforcement,

whereas inappropriate behaviors bring punishment and

extinction. This definition uses naturalistic observa-

tions and role plays to assess whether children possess

social skills (Strain, 1977; Strain et al., 1976).

Social validity is the label given to Gersham and

Elliott's (1984) third definition. They suggested that

this definition of social behavior predicts important

social outcomes such as "(a) peer acceptance or

popularity, (b) significant others' judgments of

behavior, or (c) other social behaviors known to

correlate consistently with peer acceptance or sig-

nificant others' judgments" (pp. 292-293). This

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