Just a few weeks ago, my soon to be 5 year old had his first kindergarten experience. It was a parent information night for the kindergarten class, but my wife and I wanted to take him with us.
We got there, and it was a typical parent night - mostly parents and a few children. The teachers did an excellent job keeping the parents engaged and the youngsters interested in learning!
My son would bounce up and down throughout the meeting with a huge grin on his face saying, "I'm so exciting!"
At that point, I realized how much he needed this social interaction. I began to feel sorry for him, realizing he had missed out on so much. Honestly, I started feeling like a horrible parent for allowing this, but I know that the isolation was out of my control. My wife is a nurse in the PICU, and we took isolation seriously, especially since she was constantly helping COVID patients.
Let's fast forward to the end of the meeting. Everyone was walking out or just standing around chatting with one another. My son saw two other boys that would more than likely be his classmates and he just froze. I could tell he wanted to go play with them.
I said, "It's okay buddy, go say hi."
He looked up at me with the saddest eyes and said, "How?"
I told him, "Just go sit down with them and say hi."
He grabbed my hand and said, "Please come with me."
"Of course, buddy."
We walked over to the table and he said down, loud and excitedly he said, "Hi! I'm Gavin." then he got up out of his chair and walked off to where we were standing before, pulling me with him.
At that moment I truly realized the effect of social isolation on my son. He had missed out on key social development opportunities, and as a result, he didn't know how to communicate with other children his age. It broke my heart into a million pieces.
I explained to him that if he wanted to, he should ask them what their names are and stay there and talk a little bit. We went back over, and he asked them what their names were. After the kids told him their name, they all kind of sat there in silence until my son hopped out of the seat and we headed back home.
At home, he is sociable, but when it came to his peers, he just wasn't comfortable and didn't understand how to do it. He's eager to learn, and we've been practicing a lot since then.
It is no secret that the COVID pandemic has had a massive impact on the world.
One of the most devastating effects has been on our children, who have been forced to stay isolated from other kids their age. This has led to some major concerns about their social skill development. In this blog post, we will explore how COVID lockdown has affected children's social skills and what we can do to help them.
There are several stages in which a child learns a variety of different social skills, and we will be discussing the stage during early childhood, from one to around five years old. This is when they learn how to interact with other people, build relationships, and communicate effectively.
However, due to COVID lockdown, many children have been isolated from others their age for months on end. This has had a significant impact on their social skill development. Studies have shown that social skills are largely learned through interactions with other people, and without these opportunities, children can struggle to develop these skills.
THE EFFECTS OF SOCIAL ISOLATION ON OUR CHILDREN
Ages 1 to 3
Children between the ages of one and three spend a lot of time in "parallel play," which is when they engage in similar activities but don't need to communicate with one another. They simply like being around another youngster. This is a crucial developmental phase for them, as it teaches them how to socialize. They learn how to share, take turns, and cooperate.
Ages 3 to 5
Between the ages of three and five, children take playing a step further and begin to engage in "cooperative play," becoming increasingly interested in others and making friendships. They learn how to negotiate, problem-solve, and empathize with others. This is also a critical developmental phase for them, as it helps set the foundation for their social lives in the future.
Unfortunately, due to COVID lockdown, many children have missed out on these important development phases. It is essential that we find ways to help them socialize and develop their social skills.
Now that the lockdown has been lifted (in most areas), there is no time like the present to get your child out there and interact with other kids. It's never too late to learn these skills, and the sooner they start, the better!
ACTIVITIES TO DO WITH YOUR CHILD AT HOME
As a parent, I COMPLETELY understand that sometimes we just need to stay home. There are plenty of activities you can do with your child at home to keep them entertained and socially engaged.
HERE ARE A FEW IDEAS:
Puppets: Have your child make a puppet out of household items, such as socks, paper towel tubes, or toilet rolls. Then, have them act out scenes from their favorite books or TV shows.
Board games: Playing board games is a great way to help children learn how to take turns and cooperate with others. It's also a lot of fun!
Play games: There are a number of games you can play with your child that will help them develop social skills. Some examples include tag, hopscotch, and red light green light.
Think out loud: When your child is playing, talk to them about what they're doing. Ask them questions and give them feedback. This will help them learn how to communicate with others.
Read bedtime stories: Reading bedtime stories is a great way to help children develop their vocabulary and learn about different cultures. It's also a fun bonding activity.
Do a chore together: Doing a chore together, such as cleaning up the kitchen or folding laundry, is a great way to teach children how to work cooperatively.
Communicate with family and friends: One of the best ways to help your child develop social skills is to communicate with family and friends. This can be done in person, over the phone, or through video chat. It's also important for children to see that you're talking and interacting with other people, as well. This will help them understand how to communicate with others.
There are definitely more activities you can do with your child at home to help them develop social skills. But, these are a good place to start. And remember, it's never too late for them to learn! If you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comments! Other parents will thank you for the ideas!
ACTIVITIES TO DO WITH YOUR CHILD OUT OF THE HOUSE
We can finally leave the house! Woo-hoo! But, what is there to do?
There are plenty of activities you can do with your child out of the house to keep them entertained and socially engaged.
HERE ARE A FEW IDEAS:
Visit a friend's house: One great way to help children socialize is to have them visit their friends' houses. This will give them a chance to play with other kids and make new friends if they haven't met yet.
Attend a class: There are many classes available for children, such as dance, martial arts, and swimming. These classes are wonderful for helping children learn how to follow instructions and interact with other kids.
Visit the library: The library is a great place to take your child to help them develop their love of reading. It's also an excellent way for them to interact with other people, as well.
Join a sports team: Joining a sports team is a great way for children to learn how to cooperate with others and work towards a common goal. It's also a lot of fun!
Take a walk: A simple walk around the block can help children get some exercise and fresh air. It's also a great opportunity for them to socialize with their friends and neighbors.
Attend a playgroup: Playgroups are very helpful for children to interact with other kids their age. They can play games, make crafts, and have fun.
Go to the park: A park is one of the best places for children to run around and play. It's also a good opportunity for them to socialize with their friends.
If your city has a zoo: Zoos are always fun for children to learn about different animals. They can also interact with other people, as well. You can also ask for help from the zoo workers to communicate with your child about the basic animal care tips!
Museum: Museums are a fantastic place for children to learn about different cultures and explore the world in a professional environment.
Gaming Cafe: A gaming cafe also can be a good option for children to socialize and have fun. They can play video games, board games, and more.
There are a number of activities you can do with your child out of the house to help them develop social skills. It's important to take them to places where they can interact with others now that certain restrictions have been lifted.
HOW TO SUPPORT YOUR CHILD WHILE THEY DEVELOP THEIR SOCIAL SKILLS
There are a number of ways you can support your child while they develop their social skills.
HERE ARE A FEW IDEAS:
Encourage them to talk to others: One of the best ways you can support your child is by encouraging them to talk to others. This can be done by having conversations with them, asking them questions, and giving them the opportunity to share their thoughts and feelings.
Encourage them to make friends: Another great way to support your child is by encouraging them to make friends. This can be done by helping them find common interests, introducing them to other kids their age, and inviting their friends over to your house.
Encourage them to join activities: Another great way to support your child is by encouraging them to join activities. This can be done by signing them up for a club or sport, taking them to the park, or attending a playgroup.
Encourage them to be themselves: One of the most important ways you can support your child is to encourage them to be themselves. This means accepting them for who they are and allowing them to express their thoughts and feelings.
There are a number of ways you can support your child while they develop their social skills. Doing so will help them feel confident and secure in themselves. It's important to be understanding and patient with them, as they may struggle at first. Don't force them to do anything they're not comfortable with. Providing a supportive environment will go a long way in helping them feel comfortable socializing and comfortable making mistakes and learning from them.
With time and practice, they will get better.
COVID had a devastating effect on the social skill development of many children. However, with patience and understanding, we can help them overcome these difficulties. Let's work together to make sure that all children have an opportunity to develop their social skills and thrive in their social lives. Remember, they are resilient and will bounce back, but they need our support.
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Thank you for your support and thank you for reading!
What are some other ways that we can help children develop their social skills? Let us know in the comments below!