Social development is an important component of childhood. Children learning how to interact with other children, and adults, will help them build strong relationships with those around them. These strong relationships also help build a child’s self-esteem, strengthen their learning skills, resolve conflicts, establish a positive attitude, and so many other important skills that they will utilize throughout their life. And, the transition to distance/virtual learning has some parents concerned that the social development of their children may suffer, including some parents at Intivix. So, we executed a bit of research.
Our Research Process
We posed questions about social development on our social media channels and tabulated the responses that we received. This is not a scientific study, and we certainly are not claiming that it is. Rather, the information we gathered is intended to give parents something to think about as it relates to their children.
The parents that responded to our questions around social development are concerned that their child is missing out on the social development component of learning while in distance/virtual learning. And, in most instances, they have noticed a change in their child’s behavior and believe it can be tied back to the transition to distance/virtual learning. Does this mean that virtual learning is bad? Absolutely not! Many, many parents and students are successful in a homeschooling or virtual learning environment. That said, the abrupt and lengthy transition for children and parents not completely equipped to handle all that goes into this style of learning, can be a challenge for both the students, and the parents.
Many parents, including those involved in our research, have come up with creative ways to encourage social development, while their children are engaged with virtual learning. In the case of our survey respondents, some parents have tried:
- Sending care packages to friends or other family members.
- Virtual get-togethers, like online movie nights or group calls with friends
- Socially distanced, in-person get-togethers
- Forming small “pods” of children that can get together for learning related activities
These types of activities have helped their children continue with their social development, while also giving kids a break from their normal online schooling activity.
Some parents have also found that the additional time away from peers can be turned into a positive with other activities:
- Daily family walks to enjoy the outdoors and talk about whatever comes to mind
- Family reading nights where each family member reads their book, and at a specified time, family members take turns sharing what is happening in their book
- Creative time where children, or the entire family, expresses themselves creatively through crafting, drawing, painting, or creative writing
- Cooking lessons, or experimentation of new dishes, as a family
There are also a few parents that have expressed while technology can be a helpful tool, limiting tech time is still very necessary. In fact, many of those that answered our survey questions indicated that their children have been connecting with their friends via Facetime, online gaming, or other apps.
What’s the Takeaway?
As parents, we want our children to enjoy their childhood and grow up to be well-rounded adults. And we know that social development is an important component. We also know that major changes can cause distress for many people – at this point in the year, we have likely experienced that type of distress ourselves or experienced it in others. So, what do we do?
To start, take a deep breath, and talk to your children. Ask them about their feelings, their concerns, and what they are enjoying about the current virtual situation – make this a regular occurrence. From there, try different approaches with your children. Some may really enjoy a virtual movie night with friends, while others may enjoy a creative expression night with family. Use the time and virtual schooling scenario as an opportunity to learn something new about your child or to help your child learn something new about themselves. And, if you need to brainstorm ideas, give a friend a call…your social development is just as important as your child’s is.