Positive Peer Connections

Edison Elementary School Counselor- February Newsletter

An Opportunity to Learn

Friendships and experiences with other children within your child's age group has many benefits. Children gain social skills like cooperation, active listening, empathy and problem solving through friendship. The connections between children and their peers is the primary way they learn. So, what can we do to foster relationships they have, help them create new ones, and feel connected in the midst of social distancing?
Video Lesson - Friendship Soup Recipe: A NED Short

Social Distancing & Social Connections

As we push through months of practicing social distancing and being away from school and activities, we need to stop to consider how this affects the children. Children may be feeling alone or bored or perhaps family connections have grown stronger. Whatever the case we need to keep in mind how to navigate social interactions at home to make up for what they are missing in school or extracurricular activities.

There are so many different social interactions children have with their peers. Prior to school (bus rides, morning greetings, possible morning clubs or extra help in small groups), interactions within the classroom, and activities after school (play dates, sports, clubs, aftercare, playgrounds) are just a few. The loss of these interactions, small or scheduled, could contribute to feeling isolated or anxious.

On the other hand, maybe slowing down and feeling less busy or rushed might have been positive for your family. There may be more sit down dinners, more sibling interaction, or an increase in getting back to simple activities to connect. It might be a puzzle, reading aloud to our kids more, going on nature walks, getting creative with arts and crafts, playing board games or having more movie nights. Those connections and interactions count too when we are considering how children learn from relationships.

Of course not every family is the same and perhaps the stress and toll of working from home, having to work out of the home, or job loss might be problematic as well. You are faced with your own responsibilities and those of your children. You may be having difficulty with your own emotions and this could transfer to your children.

So what can we do? Look below at some suggestions that might help foster connections within your own family and promote social learning. There are also some tips for fostering friendships with children outside the home.

Tips to Build Social Learning At Home

1. Stick with a Routine- Involve your children in the decision making as to reasonable time to go to sleep or wake up and how to prepare for the next day.

2. Play Games Together- This helps with so many social skills such as handling loosing, turn taking, and strategizing.

3. Video Games- Play with them! One mom I know just recently posted how each person put a game (Among Us) on their device/phone and they played together and had so much fun! You can also sit in the room while they connect and play with friends online. I find that my presence in the room with my son can sometimes help him be less impulsive and can help guide him when comments are made that may cause a problem.

4. Spend Time Outside- Mindful walks, listening to nature sounds, identifying plants and animals, finding trails to hike nearby that aren't too difficult for various ages are fun.

5. Play a Sport Together- It could be as simple as playing catch.

6. Video Chats with Family Members- Prep your child ahead of time as to what questions to ask to show interest, or what they would like to share as to what they've been up to (maybe a drawing they made, or book they've read)

7. Chores/Responsibilities- Involve them and check in with ways they can be helpful around the house. There are so many social benefits to this! (feeling a part of the family, like they can make meaningful contributions, sharing responsibility, fairness and turn taking, etc.)

Ideas for Fostering Friendships During the Pandemic from Verywellfamily.com

1. Virtual Play Dates- to chat, show & tell, or color together

2. Video Activity Dates- choose activity, get supplies & directions, chat while doing together

3. Live Movie Streaming

4. Live Gaming- age appropriate games, with friends they know, using audio to connect

5. Organized Outdoor Scavenger Hunt

6. Sending Letters, Postcards or Homemade Cards to Friends

7. Online Classes Connected to Interests- great way to meet new friends or do with someone they know

8. Nature Walks or Bike Riding

Further Reading...

Books About Friendship K-2

Books About Friendship 3-5

For further details or information contact your child's school counselor:

Big picture