Social interaction is essential for childhood development, especially for young children. For school-aged children going back to school after a long, fun, summer, an expected greeting would go something like “Hi! How did your summer go?” Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of school-aged children were forced to miss out on over a year of normal activities like school and extracurricular involvement. This also means they missed out on over a year of necessary peer interactions, meaning that their social skills may be impacted from a year of COVID-19 restrictions. For a lot of kids, Fall 2021 may even be the first time they have in-person interaction with teachers and same-aged peers in a school setting. 

Practicing Social Skills With Your Children

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken many normal childhood activities from young kids, including the chance to develop and practice social skills. For all school-aged children, and especially for kids who are more introverted, going back to a classroom environment may feel challenging and overwhelming. It will be essential for children to be exposed to opportunities that help them build and practice their social skills now that the world is opening up again before they go back to in-person schooling. Here are some ways to help your child build social skills this summer to prepare them for going back to school:

  1. Teach your child skills:
    1. How to ask to join in play
    2. How to interpret cues and/or facial expressions of peers
    3. How to ask for what they want/need in productive and healthy ways
    4. How to respond to their peers, particularly when they are told “no” or are being teased
  2. Role-play/Practice:
    1. Use toys and tools to engage in reciprocal play with your child
    2. Review the social skills you taught them while playing
  3. Reconnect
    1. If/when possible this summer, find opportunities for your child to play and interact with same-aged peers (such as with peers at camp, family friends, or kids they meet at a local park).
    2. Watch for and take cues from your child. Certain children may be better in small peer groups with just one or two other peers. 
  4. Have a plan for going back to school
    1. Certain children may be nervous or scared about going (or returning) to school. As the school year approaches, chat with your kid about what they’re most excited about and what may be making them nervous about school. You can help your child plan for anything they may feel nervous about, such as wearing masks, recess, and having lunch with their new peers.

Contact Us Today

Going back to school can be daunting for children and parents alike under normal circumstances, and the COVID-19 pandemic has compounded that stress. The Sunlife Pediatric Network is a top Florida pediatric facility offering physicals for children newborn up to 21 years old. Dr. Zambrano is dedicated to serving the pediatric health needs of families in the community and will offer state-of-the-art medical care to your child for their general healthcare needs. Call Sunlife Pediatric Network to schedule an appointment for your child today!