Play and other recreational group activities are very important factors in the child's social development. In them he has so many first-hand vital contacts with other children that he learns much of living with others. The companionships in play activities are important factors in the child's life, a fact well established by numerous studies of delinquents and non-delinquents. The community and the child's parents have the responsibility of insuring to each child adequate play facilities under such wholesome conditions as will further his suitable development.
A number of studies have been made of the effect of schooling on the social development of the child. Children in nursery schools develop more rapidly than those not in nursery school in such social traits as cheerfulness when toys are taken away or withheld, talkativeness, starting activities on their own initiative, and showing sympathy for a stranger who feigned weeping. The environment of a good nursery school provides such a wide variety of powerful stimuli to social and intellectual development that advantageous results are to be expected. On the other hand, a highly formalized, narrow routine in an institution should not be expected to produce very satisfactory social or intellectual development. The types of situations in which children live have more significance, it would seem, than the mere fact of living in an institution, attending some kind of nursery school, or living at home.
Not only do the activities of the child in a nursery school have distinct value for his social development, but also the good modern elementary school makes its contribution. Many of the social virtues were badly neglected, except as they may have been fostered in play and games and in some of the occasional entertainments or school programs. A good modern school helps children learn to live together happily and effectively while engaged upon socially and individually useful activities. By its alertness to adaptive difficulties it helps the child learn at an early age some of the give and take of getting along with others. The timid child has many opportunities to do for or in a group the things which he can do best. With practice he begins to lose his timidity. If he reads well, he may read some little story to his own class or to some other. He distributes supplies, carries a note to the principal or to another teacher, or reports on something he has read or observed. A wide variety of specific things are utilized by the good teacher to help the pupil overcome some undesirable trait or to develop a desirable one. In the kindergarten, nursery school, and primary grades of the elementary school may be found innumerable opportunities for furthering the child's social development. The school's influence upon the social and emotional development of many children probably is of greater value than its contribution to their fund of academic information.