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5 ways to build social skills in isolation



Even when they’re stuck at home, kids’ social skills can be improved

5 ways to build social skills in isolation


School has always been more than academics. In addition to learning math, science, and literature, it’s also where we pick up social skills, through contact.

With the recent spikes of Covid-19 infections in the Hudson Valley, remote learning, with no physical interaction at all, will remain the standard for most schools, probably well into 2021. Although that can change based on updated information.

One of many parental concerns is the faltering of kids’ social skills due to lack of use. Fortunately, Ashley Abramson at Fatherly.com has some tips to help parents keep their youngsters from losing the ability to make and keep friendships, develop a sense of self worth, hone their empathy, and build confidence.

READ MORE: Helping preschoolers’ development during Covid-19

We’re turning our attention to the problem of social skills not only because it’s reared its ugly head, but also because we can. In the early days of the pandemic, most folks’ main worry was health. How do we keep ourselves, and our families from getting Covid-19? The question, “How will we educate our kids?” wasn’t top priority for most. And “How will our kids keep getting the appropriate socialization skills while in isolation?” was even further down the ladder. Now, however, as the winter bears down and we know a bit more about how to stay safe physically, attention must be, and can be, paid elsewhere.

Abramson is refreshingly optimistic. She writes: “While it’s true your kids might be missing out on some important opportunities to grow socially, don’t worry too much — you as a parent play an important role in teaching your child how to relate to other people. And it is certainly possible to continue building social skills outside of the school environment.” 

Her 5 tips, in a nutshell:

  1. Virtual play dates

  2. Read aloud even more

  3. Encourage pretend play

  4. Play board games

  5. Talk, mainly about things they like

Regarding virtual play dates, Abramson writes, “If your kid is old enough to carry a conversation, encourage a regular, one-on-one FaceTime call or Zoom meetup with their closest friends. In either scenario, try to keep the hangout to a few kids to prevent chaos and distraction.”

Reading aloud helps no matter what the context, but may help more now. Says Abramson, “Social skills are as much about speech and communication as they are emotional intelligence.”

For pretend play, bring on the puppets if you’ve not yet done so. With board games, Abramson notes, the aspect of conversation during play really helps develop communication skills. And finally, talking. That everyday reflex is crucial. Abramson’s article notes: “Work on the tenets of solid communication skills — eye contact, listening and responding, and being authentic in sharing thoughts, ideas, observations, and feelings.” 



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