Author’s note: Hi, I'm Amy Selley and this is the second in a series of 6 blog posts I will publish over the next 6 months, which are our first 6 months as owners of The Little Gym. These posts will draw from my 20+ years as a preschool teacher (and a mom!), with the intention of dropping in some nuggets of knowledge on how parents can best help their child. I will also draw direct correlations to what we are doing at my new home at The Little Gym at Cherry Hill, in Danvers, MA).
The pandemic hit everyone hard. But it may have hit our community's children the hardest. The pandemic didn’t just interrupt their education, it also slowed personal and social growth. Having kids home instead of in school or playing outside delayed the learning of many critical social skills.
These skills include following directions, taking turns when playing, telling others what they like and dislike, reading facial expressions, and interpreting others’ needs. These are essential life skills every child must learn to grow into happy, healthy, and thriving adults.
The pandemic also delayed the learning of one other vital life skill — making friends with other children. Creating a connection between themselves and other children is as critical for young kids as it is for adults. But it’s something that worries many parents.
A recent study shows what things parents worry about most with their kids. They include making conversation with friends, meeting new people, sharing, staying quiet for long periods, waiting their turn, and saying “please” and “thank you”.
Making friends fills an emotional void for kids. It also helps them learn critical skills like how to work together and how to solve problems. Returning to school will help kids with some of these social issues. This effort, however, is opposed to the social distancing children encountered during the pandemic.
That means schools will face new challenges when they re-open in the fall — challenges they’ve never faced before. Beating these challenges will require schools to shift their mindsets to help resolve critical socialization issues.
ADDRESSING SOCIALIZATION ISSUES IS A CHALLENGE
Parents don’t have to wait for schools to open to help their children deal with social issues, like making new friends. They can jump-start this process themselves by doing things now to help their kids reconnect with peers. The first step in doing this is determining what works best for their sons and daughters.
Parents will also need to determine if the child is interested in an activity before scheduling play dates or other social activities. It may be that your child is just as content to play at home or with one of their siblings. Forcing a kid to socialize doesn’t work.
Plus, parents will need to take time to determine how a child socializes. Every child socializes in his or her way. Once parents determine that, they can move on to creating opportunities for kids to make friends. Most kids get to a point where they are comfortable making friends.
Some tips from Education.com on helping your kids make friends include: (1) practice the basics with your child; (2) avoid pressuring the child; (3) discuss real-life issues through stories; (4) socialize with other parents; (5) get the child involved in after school activities; (6) help your child meet other kids in your neighborhood; (7) let your child be himself or herself; and (8) take a step back.
HOW THE LITTLE GYM CAN HELP
The Little Gym (TLG) is about a lot more than just playing sports and doing gymnastics. We help children learn and practice basic socialization skills, including making friends. Our professionally developed socialization program immerses a child in activities that can help him or her reconnect with others and develop peer relationships.
Plus, our holistic approach to learning challenges children to master the physical, emotional, and life skills they'll need to thrive as adults. In short, we help young kids become future well-adjusted adults, ready to take on the world.
TLG also provides unique educational classes revolving around active play to prepare kids for all of life’s activities. In addition, our staff works hard to develop rapport with your child under their care and with you.
Our staff is also very supportive during classes and finds critical moments during these activities to give each child one-on-one time, all while making the activities fun and enjoyable. Plus, we look for unique partnership opportunities to impact children positively, both in and out of the gym. Together, we can help your child or children make new friends and grow personally and socially in a post-pandemic world.