3 Tips From Wolf School Staff
COVID-19 has impacted all of our lives, especially the lives of our children. During these challenging times, Complex Learners may be struggling with the increased isolation, different routines, canceled plans, and increased stress. Unfortunately, with physical distance often comes social distance. For many Complex Learners already struggling with barriers to social connection, this can be a valuable time to continue to work on strengthening those skills.
Two of Wolf’s Speech & Language Pathologists, Anna Zembo and Allison McCormick, recently shared tips for social connection during COVID-19 during our latest Parent Café. Take a look below for 3 social strategies and opportunities you can try with your child!
Create opportunities at home
While we’re all spending more time indoors, take this as a chance to create opportunities at home for your child! Create opportunities for conversation – whether it’s as your child is helping you try out a new baking recipe or at the dinner table. Involve your child in the decision-making process and have them pick a topic of discussion for the family dinner that night. This helps your child not only practice their language skills but also gives them a chance to practice social skills like waiting for their turn or asking a follow-up question to keep the conversation going.
After watching a movie as a family or reading a chapter before nighttime, engage in TV or book talk with your child. What just happened? How does your child feel about these latest developments? How do they think the main character is feeling? What makes them think that? Have them put on their future googles and try to anticipate what might happen on the next episode or in the next chapter!
Another way to foster social learning at home is by encouraging your child to spend time with their siblings. Whether it’s playing a game or watching a movie together, this time with someone closer to their own age helps your child strengthen the skills they’ll be using in the future with classmates and friends.
Stay connected virtually
While Zoom fatigue is affecting more and more of us, it is still important to try our best to stay connected with friends and family virtually. Though we have to practice social distancing, we don’t have to remain completely isolated from our social circles.
COVID may be causing all of us to spend more time on our screens, and while your child’s screen time might be concerning you it is important to remember there is a difference between solitary screen time (scrolling social media, playing a one-player video game) and social screen time (face timing with a friend, a Netflix teleparty with a cousin).
Social screen time can provide your child with an excellent opportunity for social connection. Encourage your child to set up a Facetime with a classmate or schedule a reoccurring weekly Zoom check-in with an aunt or grandparent.
For Complex Learners, engaging in video chatting or playing virtual games with friends might actually be less intimidating as opposed to doing it in person. With a slower pace, virtual hangouts provide Complex Learners more time to process and engage. You can make it even less stressful for your child by suggesting they play a simple social game like 20 questions or charades! This helps alleviate the stress they might be feeling when thinking about what they’ll talk about.
Get into the community
While these opportunities might not be as frequent as any of us would like, there are still ways to get out and involved with our community. Talk to your child and come up with some ideas together like going for a walk on the local bike path, writing a letter to the local nursing home, or running to the corner store for dessert. All of these moments provide an opportunity for your child to practice social scripts, small talk, and gain experience to get more comfortable in social situations.
With more and more clubs turning virtual, do some research to see if there are any groups your child could join like a virtual social group or a book club.
If your child struggles socially, it may feel like there’s nothing you can do to help during COVID. While it can feel difficult to try to help your child connect socially during a pandemic, it’s not impossible! Get involved, get creative, and work together to connect with friends and family. What have you been doing to help your child connect socially during COVID-19? Share your ideas in the comments below.
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