Pandemic has fundamentally altered the way we learn, work, and socialise today, leading to some of the largest educational and medicinal innovation experiments in the history of humankind. It has ushered in an entirely new way of being for all of us, bringing us face to face with unprecedented challenges, one of the more pressing ones for parents being – “How will the lack of face to face interaction with other children impact my child’s social skills?” Social interactions are an important component of a child’s development, and spending time with peers is a significant part of that process.
The great news is that as a parent we can address these concerns. Here are three creative ways in which we can adapt to these newer times and continue to help our child develop their social skills, lack of face to face interaction notwithstanding.
Schedule virtual play dates
Older children can find ways to stay connected and continue talking to their friends online. However, with younger children, parents may need to go the extra mile and reach out to other parents to organize virtual playdates. This can be in the form of loose, unstructured time where children get to talk to each other over a video call or on the phone outside of a classroom environment. Alternatively, for children who are shy and reserved, parents could suggest activities like colouring, working on origami, or games like Guess Who, Pictionary, or Online Chess, to encourage conversation between children. This will help them create and sustain friendship with their peers outside of the classroom.
Do an activity together as a family
Even though we all are at home, most of the time, a significant amount of it is being spent on devices. Setting aside time for a family activity will make up for the current loss in the child’s routine and develop their conversational skills. Cooking a meal together, playing a game, or learning a language or music as a family can be a great way to build their interaction skills.
Encourage your child to take up community gardening
Another activity that engages children physically, mentally, and socially is taking care of plants, but we suggest involving their friends in the process too. It’s a great way for them to forge a connection with Earth and experience fresh air. You could call over their neighbourhood friend(s), and get them working on their vegetable garden together. Alternatively, they could discuss plants they are growing in their respective gardens over Zoom, take each other on a virtual trip through their gardens, and send a flower or fruit to each other once in a while! This activity will be equal parts fun and educational. As an added bonus, developing a routine around watering plants or getting involved in gardening activities can be a stress reliever for parents.