Family is the first school not only in terms of socialization and citizenship, but also in terms of general education. A positive family environment will give children examples they can follow in order to better relate with others when they leave this environment.
In a family a child learns to trust. He learns to communicate effectively and with courtesy, first through facial expressions and gestures, then through basic babbles - some of these elicit a fun response from adults who seem to approve and so he repeats those sounds realizing they have meaning for the adults - and can get him what he wants!
A child then learns to compromise and to see that others have needs too. He learns that a co-operative society is a happier and more productive one for all. It is the early positive model he experiences that gives him hope for his own future in society and the self-esteem to follow it through and make it work for him and those he has yet to meet.
Socialization start at an extremely young age. Therefore, the family is the first step in the socialization process. It may also be the most important for two reasons.
1. When a child is born, he or she learns about the world at home. The "way the world is" and "the way the world should be" is shaped by the family and the child believes these things to be true. The world as he or she knows it, becomes commonsense or second nature, when, in fact, it is not. Just a short trip to another country will show this! The whole world is socially constructed. This is the insight of Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann. However, the child does not know this.
2. The family also reinforces these patterns through constant contact. There are also sanctions for disobedience and rewards for obedience.
All of these things make an incredible impact on the child.
Indeed, the role of family for the earliest development of a child is quite valuable. This can take on both emotional and academic forms. From an emotional standpoint, the learning a child receives from the earliest ages can play a very strong role in how that child appropriates and understands situations. For example, if a child is consistently introduced and exposed to positive and healthy ways to address conflict and challenging situations, there is a greater chance that they will model these situations themselves. Conversely, if a child is exposed to harsh conditions and unproductive or abusive manners in which to address problems, there is a strong chance that this is how they will react to such situations. Academically, there is significant research which suggests that if children receive instruction and exposure to concepts from an early age, the familiarity will increase and there will be a greater chance they understand these concepts when they are exposed to them in school. Conversely, for example, if a child has not been exposed to reading or other aspects of instruction outside of class, there is a greater chance that comprehending these concepts will be difficult, or there will not be as much success if the child would have been exposed to this concept from an earlier point.
Socialization is defined as the process of instilling in children the values of a particular society.
Gvien this definition, it is clear that family is the first school and the most important agent of socialization at least in the early stages of a child's life.
When a child is little, all it knows of society is what its parents and siblings teach it. It may observe society, but it is only from its family that it receives instruction about what is acceptable and what is not acceptable in its society.
In addition, the instruction received from family members is made stronger by the emotional bonds between them.
Of course, the influence of the family fades over time relative to that of the peer group. But the basic foundation laid by the family persists.